Royal Asiatic Society Universities Prize Essay Fund

Scope and Content

The records of the Universities Prize Essay cover the conversion from the Public School Medal to the Universities Prize Essay Fund, governance of the award and the conferment of the Honour in subsequent years. They include Rules, correspondence, and winning essays. However there are not records for all instances of the presentation of the award. Researchers are advised to also examine the Council Minutes and the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (both held in the RAS Collections) when researching concerning the Universities Prize Essay and its recipients.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland was founded by the eminent Sanskrit scholar Sir Henry Thomas Colebrooke on the 15th March 1823. It received its Royal Charter from King George IV on the 11th August 1824 'for the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia'. It continues as a forum for those who are interested in the languages, cultures and history of Asia to meet and exchange ideas.

From 1904-1929 the Royal Asiatic Society awarded a Gold Medal to a schoolboy writing on a chosen essay title. However, as entrants dwindled and few schools seemed interested in teaching Indian history, it was decided that the competition should be changed to one for undergraduate students. The change was finalised on 15th December 1931. Regulations for the University Prize Essay Fund were drawn up in 1932 and the first prize was awarded in 1933. In 1939, Professor Perceval Yetts designed a certificate to be presented with the prize (an example of this can be found in these papers). The prize was initially awarded annually but then became biennial. The prize money also increased at various intervals.

The Prize's recipients are:

  • 1933 - Norman Richard Seddan
  • 1934 - Dorothy A.L. Stede
  • 1935 - Evan Glyndwr Jones
  • 1936 - Dennis Wood
  • 1937 - Desmond Patrick Costello
  • 1938 - Albert John Chapman
  • 1939 - Asa Briggs
  • 1940 - Geoffrey Scott Mowat
  • 1941 - Carlo F. Brunner
  • 1942 - 1944 no award made
  • 1945 - R.F.S. Batstone
  • 1946 - no award
  • 1947 - George Bennett
  • 1948-1949 - N.S. Adams
  • 1949-1950 - Arthur William Butler
  • 1950-1951 - James George Morrell
  • 1951-1952 - D.J. Everett
  • 1952-1953 - no award
  • 1953 -1954 - Simon Everard Digby
  • 1954 -1955 - Michael N. Teague
  • 1955-1956 - Gavin Richard Grenville Hambly
  • 1956-1957 - Gavin Richard Grenville Hambly
  • 1957-1958 - no award
  • 1958- 1959 - J.L. Young
  • 1959 -1960 - no award
  • 1960 - Keith Leslie Pratt
  • 1961 - no award
  • 1962 - Christopher Clay
  • 1963 - no award
  • 1964 - Michael Salt
  • 1966 - no award
  • 1967 - Gordon Johnson and Peter Khoroche
  • 1969-1970 - no award
  • 1971 - Joan Leopold
  • 1973 - David Shulman
  • 1975 - David Helliwell
  • 1977 - Rupert Faulkner

Arrangement

The archive has been arranged into series representing the conferment of each medal. Thus:

  • RAS UPE/1 - Institution and Governance of the Fund
  • RAS UPE/2 - 1933 - Norman Richard Seddon
  • RAS UPE/3 - 1934 - Dorothy Anne Louise Stede
  • RAS UPE/4 - 1935 - Evan Glyndwr Jones
  • RAS UPE/5 - 1936 - Dennis Wood
  • RAS UPE/6 - 1937 - Desmond Patrick Costello
  • RAS UPE/7 - 1938 - Albert John Chapman
  • RAS UPE/8 - 1939 - Asa Briggs
  • RAS UPE/9 - 1940 - Geoffrey Scott Mowat
  • RAS UPE/10 - 1941 - Carlo F. Brunner
  • RAS UPE/11 - 1945 - R.F.S. Batstone
  • RAS UPE/12 - 1947 - George Bennett
  • RAS UPE/13 - 1948-1949 - N.S. Adams
  • RAS UPE/14 - 1949-1950 - Arthur William Butler
  • RAS UPE/15 - 1950-1951 - James George Morrell
  • RAS UPE/16 - 1951-1952 - D.J. Everett
  • RAS UPE/17 - 1953 -1954 - Simon Everard Digby
  • RAS UPE/18 - 1954 -1955 - Michael N. Teague
  • RAS UPE/19 - 1955-1956 - Gavin Richard Grenville Hambly
  • RAS UPE/20 - 1956-1957 - Gavin Richard Grenville Hambly
  • RAS UPE/21 - 1957-1958 - no award
  • RAS UPE/22 - 1958- 1959 - J.L. Young
  • RAS UPE/23 - 1960 - Keith Leslie Pratt
  • RAS UPE/24 - 1962 - Christopher Clay
  • RAS UPE/25 - 1963 - no award
  • RAS UPE/26 - 1964 - Michael Salt
  • RAS UPE/27 - 1966 - no award
  • RAS UPE/28 - 1967 - Gordon Johnson and Peter Khoroche
  • RAS UPE/29 - 1969-1970 - no award
  • RAS UPE/30 - 1971 - Joan Leopold
  • RAS UPE/31 - 1973 - David Shulman

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the archivist. nc@royalasiaticsociety.org The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID

Acquisition Information

These are part of the institutional records of the Royal Asiatic Society which have been accumulated throughout its history. However there has not been a systematic keeping of records throughout the history of the Royal Asiatic Society and therefore some occasions of the Medal's conferment have few records and, in some cases, no records remain.

Archivist's Note

This material was catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2018. Some of this material had previously suffered from mould damage. The items are housed in individual melinex sleeves and should not be removed from this packaging.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Custodial History

These records are part of the Royal Asiatic Society's Institutional Records and therefore part of the historical records of the Society.

Related Material

The Council Minutes Books of the Royal Asiatic Society have decisions minuted regarding the institution of the Medal, the yearly establishment of a Committee to choose the essay titles and to judge the entrants, with subsequent conferment of each Medal and Book prizes. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society also contains information in its "Proceedings of the Royal Asiatic Society" sections, particularly in the annual Report of the Annual General Meeting.

An article in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1984, pp.99-119, "The Emblems, Medals and Medallists of the Royal Asiatic Society" by John Hansman, contains information pertinent to researchers of the Public School Medal. A photocopy of this article is found in this material.