Papers of Reginald le May

Scope and Content

These papers consist of a typed list of Reginald Le May's publications from 1926-1962, including some unpublished works at the time, and a small amount of biographical material. The list is headed with the handwritten annotation "With the compliments of Mr Reginald le May Feb. 1962".

Administrative / Biographical History

Reginald le May was born in Suffolk in 1885 and was educated at at Framlingham College, Suffolk, from 1898 to 1902. He then spent 3 years in France and Germany. In 1907 he passed the Public Examination for the Far Eastern Consular Service. He served in the British Consular Service in Siam from 1908 to 1922, in 1909 winning a British government prize for his proficiency in Thai language. He served as Vice-Consul at Chiang Mai from 1915 to 1917, and afterwards as Vice-Consul at Bangkok until he was transferred to Saigon in 1920. In 1916 he married Dorothy Madeline Castle, with whom he had one daughter.

In 1922 le May was offered the post of Economic Adviser to the Siamese Government. He was from 1926 to 1932 adviser to Prince Purachatra, Head of the State of Railways and Minister of Commerce. He retired from this post in 1933 and returned to the UK via Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, China and the US. After his return to the UK, le May pursued a doctorate at Cambridge University in 1934, and was awarded a PhD for his thesis on "Buddhist art in Siam", which was published in 1938. He had collected much Thai art which he exhibited in Cambridge in 1937. Le May continued to publish many books and articles throughout his life. He died in 1972, aged 87.

For a more complete biography see the British Library Asian and African Studies blog post.

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist using the email address given here. 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

It is unknown how the material became part of the Society's records. It presumably was donated by le May.

Archivist's Note

The papers were catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2019.

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

It is presumed from the annotation that that material was composed by Reginald le May and given to the Society.

Related Material

The Library Collections contain several of Reginald le May's publications. Full details can be found here.


Geographical Names