Papers of Edward Rehatsek

Scope and Content

The Papers consist of manuscripts of translations made by Rehatsek often with notes, prefaces etc by Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot, to whom Rehatsek had sent the translations.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Rehatsek was born in 1819 in Ilok (then in Hungary, now in Croatia). He graduated from the university in Budapest with a masters degree in civil engineering. He left Hungary in 1842, visiting Paris before spending four years in the United States of America. In 1847 he sailed to India, where he remained for the rest of his life. He studied Asian languages and literature and accompanied Dr Bhau Daji on his research travels. As a competent mathematician and good Latin scholar, he became employed as Professor of Mathematics and of Latin at Wilson College, Bombay, remaining in post until 1871, besides giving private lessons in Latin, Persian, Arabic and French.

Rehatsek became an Examiner at Bombay University from 1869-1881, being made a Felwow in 1873 and twice being the Wilson Philological Lecturer in Hebrew and Semitic languages. In 1874 he was elected an honorary member of the Bombay Asiatic Society in recognition of his oriental learning. Rehatsek translated a number of Persian and Arabic works including "Biography of Our Lord Muhammad, the Apostle of Allah" according to Ibn Hisham, the first two parts of "Mirkhond's General History" and the first part of "The Rauzat-us-safa" for the Oriental Translation Fund.

Rehatsek remained unmarried and lived something of the life of a recluse. he had no servants and cooked his food using a spirit lamp. He owned a small house with little furniture but many books on which he worked continuously. He died on 11 December 1891 and was given a Hindu cremation at his request. His savings were left for the education of poor boys in Bombay.

Forster Fitzgerald (F.F.) Arbuthnot (1833-1901) was also a linguist and translator. He spent his early career in the Indian civil service in Bombay where he would have known Rehatsek. He was also a close friend of Richard Burton and collaborated with him on publications. He acted as an editor for some of Rehatsek's work.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the archivist. 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

On the cover of ER/1/1, A Translation of the Nigaristan by Muir Uddin Jaiwuia, it states that the manuscript was given to the Royal Asiatic Society by F.F. Arbuthnot in 1895. In Thomas Wright's "The Life of Sir Richard Burton, Volume II" (Everett & Co., 1906), p.70-71, he states that these manuscripts were in the possession of Arbuthnot but failed to reach publication because of Arbuthnot's death but that these manuscripts were in the possession of the Royal Asiatic Society. In Appendix IX of the same volume, p.xiii, those manuscripts within these Papers which were not published are listed yu the author with some comments upon them. So it is possible that all the handwritten manuscripts were given to the Society by Arbuthnot in 1895.

Archivist's Note

These Papers were catalogued in 2018 by Nancy Charley, RAS Archivist.

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

The translations are all the work of Edward Rehatsek who sent them to F.F. Arbuthnot for editing and possible publication. (There is some book post packaging with the material). The Papers have been annotated and organised by Arbuthnot whilst in his possession.

Related Material

The Journal for the Royal Asiatic Society 1892 (3, July), pp. 581-595, carries an article "Life and Labours of Mr. Edward Rehatsek" by F.F. Arbuthnot which acts as both an obituary for him and also gives a detailed list of Rehatsek's publications.

The Society holds within its Collections copies of the publications: Catalogue raisonné of the Arabic, Hindostani, Persian, and Turkish mss. in the Mulla Firuz library (1873); On Hindu civilization in the Far East, as represented by architectural monuments and inscriptions (ca.1890); The Rauzat-us-safa, or, Garden of Purity by Muhammad bin Khāvendshāh bin Mahmūd, commonly called Mirkhond (1891-1894);The life of Muhammad, apostle of Allah by Ibn Ishaq [translated from the Arabic by Edward Rehatsek], edited by Michael Edwardes (1964);The Gulistan, or, Rose garden of Saʻdī, translated by Edward Rehatsek, edited with a preface by W. G. Archer and introduction by G. M. Wickens ([1964]). Full details can be found on our online catalogue.

Geographical Names