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1897 – Professor E.B. Cowell
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- ReferenceGB 891 RAS TGM/2
- Dates of Creation1897
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Edward Byles Cowell was born in Ipswich in 1826, and became interested in oriental languages at the age of 15, when he found copies of William Jones' work in his local library. Self-taught he starting translating and publishing Sanskrit works. On the death of his father in 1842 he took over the family business, but continued to read voraciously. He married in 1845, and in 1850 entered Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied for the next six years and catalogued Persian manuscripts for the Bodleian library. He resided in Calcutta from 1856 to 1867, as professor of English history at Presidency College, and from 1858 also as principal of Sanskrit College. In this year he discovered a manuscript of the quatrains (robāʿiyāt) of ʿOmar Ḵayyām in the Asiatic Society's library and sent a copy to London for his friend and Persian student, Edward Fitzgerald.
Having studied Hindustani, Bengali, and Sanskrit with native scholars, he returned to England to take up an appointment as the first professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge. He remained in Cambridge until his death in 1903.