Sanskrit manuscripts collected by Horace Hayman Wilson

Scope and Content

Mainly Sanskrit manuscripts, both classical and Vedic, collected by Horace Hayman Wilson, 15th-19th century. Subjects represented include astronomy, history (Puranas), language, law, literature, medicine, mysticism (Tantras), philosophy and rhetoric.

Administrative / Biographical History

Horace Hayman Wilson (1786-1860) went to India as a surgeon in the East India Company's service in 1808, but soon turned his attention to the language and literature of that country. In 1819 he published the first Sanskrit-English Dictionary. He was elected first Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford in 1832. Wilson also became Librarian of the East India Company, and, in 1837, Director of the Royal Asiatic Society. See the Dictionary of National Biography for details.

Access Information

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Acquisition Information

In 1842 the Library purchased 616 manuscripts, almost entirely Sanskrit, collected by Wilson. Wilson's autograph list of the manuscripts is in the Library, but in the process of arranging and rebinding the manuscripts have become 546 volumes, and it is unlikely that the whole of Wilson's list can be identified in the collection. In 1865 a further 33 volumes of 'translations from the Puranas' in Sanskrit', made between 1823 and 1832, which had belonged to Wilson came to the Library through Professor Max Mller.


Collection level description created by Susan Thomas, Department of Special Collections and Western Manuscripts.

Other Finding Aids

The manuscripts are summarily described in the card catalogue, arranged by language, located in the Oriental Reading Room.

Theodor Aufrecht, Moriz Winternitz, A.B. Keith Codices Sanscriticos complectens, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1864-1909), vols. 1-2. See also A.B. Keith Catalogue of Sanskrit manuscripts in the Bodleian Library : appendix to vol. 1 (Oxford, 1909).

E. Sachau, H. Eth and A.F.L. Beeston Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindstn, and Pusht manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, 3 vols. (Oxford, 1889-1953), vol. 2.

A.B. Keith A catalogue of Prakrit manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, 1911).