Papers of Dr. Hartwig Hirschfeld

Scope and Content

The Papers of Hartwig Hirschfeld consists of the handwritten manuscript draft for his New Researches into the Composition and Exegesis of the Koran along with some supplementary notes in English and Arabic. The manuscript bears the stamp of the Bombay's Education Society's Press, Bycella, and is dated "Received 7 Mar 1902". The book was published by the Royal Asiatic Society, as Volume III of their Asiatic Monograph Series, in 1902.

With the manuscript draft and notes is a letter from Raphael Loewe to Mrs M. Davis, Secretary, Royal Asiatic Society, to thank her for agreeing to take the manuscript. He is working through Hirschfeld's papers (his great-uncle) and also enquires whether the Society would be interested in transcripts of Arabic manuscripts. This letter is typed and dated 17 May 1962.

Administrative / Biographical History

Hartwig Hirschfeld was born in Thorn, Prussia. After graduating from the Royal Marien Gymnasium in Posen, Hirschfeld studied Oriental languages and philosophy at the University of Berlin. He received his doctorate from the University of Strasburg in 1878 and, after a year's compulsory service in the Prussian Army, he obtained a travelling scholarship in 1882 which enabled him to study Arabic and Hebrew at Paris under Joseph Derenbourg.

Hirschfeld immigrated to England in 1889, where he became professor of Biblical exegesis, Semitic languages, and philosophy at the Montefiore College. In 1901, he was invited by the Syndicate of Cambridge University to examine the Arabic fragments in the Taylor-Schechter collection. That same year, he was appointed librarian and professor of Semitic languages at Jews' College, a position he occupied until 1929. He became a lecturer in Semitic epigraphy at University College London in 1903, a Reader in Ethiopic in 1906, and Goldsmid Lecturer in Hebrew there in 1924.

He published many works including the volume included in these papers. He is known for his editions of Judah Halevi's Kuzari, which he published in its original Judeo-Arabic and in Hebrew, German and English translations, and his studies on the Cairo Geniza.

Raphael Loewe was born in India in 1919, and grew up in Oxford, where he studied at the Dragon School. While teaching in Cologne in 1938, he witnessed the rise of Nazism and served in the Armed Forces during the Second World War. He enlisted and was drafted into the Pioneer Corps, and later trained as an officer, posted eventually to the Royal Armoured Corps. He taught at Leeds University (1949-53), and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (from 1954). He then moved to University College, London, in 1961 and was appointed Goldsmid Professor of Hebrew in 1981, a position he held until his retirement in 1984. He served as president of the Jewish Historical Society of England, the Society for Old Testament Study, and the British Association for Jewish Studies. He died in 2011.

Access Information

Open. Please contact the archivist. Details can be found 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

The papers were donated by Raphael Loewe in 1962.

Archivist's Note

This material was catalogued by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist, in 2022.

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

These papers belonged to Hartwig Hirschfeld. They were sorted by Raphael Loewe in 1962.

Related Material

The Society's collections hold several publications by Hartwig Hirschfeld. Details can be found here.