Papers of Professor Sir Edward Denison Ross and Lady Dora Ross

Scope and Content

The Ross Collection comprises the correspondence of Denison Ross, including that with his wife (1902-1940); personal material including diaries and notebooks of Lady Ross; articles, lecture notes, language material and notes gathered by J.A. Chapman whilst editing Denison Ross's autobiography Both Ends of the Candle published in 1943.

Administrative / Biographical History

(Edward) Denison Ross was born in London on 6 June 1871. From Marlborough he went to University College London. In 1894 he was awarded a Doctorate in Persian from Strasbourg University and in 1896 was appointed Professor of Persian at University College London. In 1901 he went to India as Principal of the Madrasah Muslim College and in 1911 this post was combined with that of Officer in Charge of Records of the Government of India and Assistant Secretary in the Department of Education. As a Fellow of Calcutta University and an active member of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, he did not confine himself to Islamic Studies but gained some knowledge of Sanskrit and Chinese and a more profound knowledge of Tibetan. He married Dora Robinson in 1904. He was made Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1912. Denison Ross returned to Britain in 1914 to become First Assistant in the British Museum, where he was appointed to catalogue the Stein Collection. On the outbreak of the War he joined the Postal Censorship Department and the Department of Military Intelligence, where he prepared vocabularies in several languages. In 1916 he was made the first Director of the newly founded School of Oriental Studies (later the School of Oriental and African Studies). He was knighted in 1918. He remained as Director of the School until 1937. In 1939 he was sent as Head of the British Information Bureau in Istanbul where he died on 23 September 1940, a few months after his wife.


The Collection is arranged in six sections: correspondence; personal material; articles and lecture notes; manuscript notes in notebooks; language material; manuscripts of Denison Ross's books. Where possible, material has been arranged in chronological order.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1968, 1978 and 1990.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance