1953 – Sir Ralph Turner

Scope and Content

There is a single letter from the Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society to John Pinches, to request that they make a silver-gilt medal in time for the presentation on 11 June. Typed letter, dated 15 May, 1953. For further information regarding the conferment of the Medal, see Related Material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ralph Lilley Turner was born in London in 1888, and educated in London and at Christ's College, Cambridge. In 1913, he joined the Indian Educational Service as a lecturer at Queen's College, Benares. From 1915 to 1919, he served with the 2nd battalion, 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles in the British Indian Army during World War I, winning the Military Cross in Palestine. From 1920 to 1922, he was Professor of Indian Linguistics at Benares Hindu University.

In 1922, Turner returned to England as Professor of Sanskrit at the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London. Between 1924 and 1932, he also published several papers on Romani Studies in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, including "On the position of Romani in Indo-Aryan" (1927). He was Director of the school from 1937 to 1957, although he continued to occupy his Chair as well until 1954. He was knighted in 1950. His magnum opus, the Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan languages was published in 1966.

Related Material

In the Council Minutes for 12 February 1953 it was recorded that Professors Bailey, Driver, Gibb and Dr Waley were appointed along with ex-officio members (Rule 77) to consider the award of the Gold Medal and in the Minutes for 16th April 1953 it was unanimously agreed that the Medal should be awarded to Sir Ralph Turner. This is also recorded in the Report of the Anniversary General Meeting in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1953, p.184, and a report, "The Presentation of the Society's Triennial Gold Medal to Sir Ralph Turner" is in the same Journal, pp. 191-2.