EVANS-WENTZ, Walter Yeeling (born Wentz, added his mother’s surname c. 1910). Trento NJ 2.2.1878 — Encinitas, Calif. 17.7.1966. U.S. Traveller, Anthropologist and Tibetologist. Son of Christopher Wentz, a wealthy estate owner from New Jersey with German origin, and Mary Evans Cook, of Irish descent. Originally Baptist, his father turned to Theosophy and the boy read Blavatsky as teenager. He moved to San Diego and joined Theosophical Society in 1901. Graduated from Stanford University (B.A. and M.A.). Further studies in Rennes and Oxford (Jesus College, B.A. in 1911, with a thesis on Celtic folklore). Travelled widely in Mexico and Europe, then in Asia, in Ceylon (collected Pāli manuscripts), India (visited Adyar), the Himalayas, etc. In 1919 stayed in Sikkim and prepared with Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup (1868–1922) several translations of Tibetan religious texts and himself practised yoga. In the 1920s in England (Jesus College, Oxford), the again in India. The war forced him back to the U.S.A. and he lived 23 years in San Diego, California. He remained Theosophist all his life and was influenced by Swami Yogananda and Ramana Maharshi. In his will he left money to Stanford University for a chair of Oriental religions and philosophies. D.Litt.
Publications: Oxford diss. publ. The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. L. 1911.
– The Tibetan Book of the Dead or The After-Death Experiences on the Bardo Plane, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering compiled and edited. 44+248 p. L. 1927; 3rd ed. 84+249 p. 1955; French transl. 1933, German 1935 – the title was invented by E.-W. to remind of the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
– Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa. A Biography from the Tibetan, being the Jetsün-Kahbum or Biographical History of Jetsün-Milarepa, according to Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s English Rendering edited with Introduction and Annotations. L. 20+151 p. 1928; 2nd ed. 1951; German Munich 1937; French P. 1955.
– Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines or Seven Books of Wisdom of the Great Path. 42+389 p. L. 1935, 2nd ed. L. 1960; French transl. P. 1948.
– The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation or the Method of Realizing Nirvāna through knowing the Mind. 328 p. 1954.
– Theosophical articles, etc.
Sources: *Lopez 2008, 183-185; Peiris, Buddhism 259f. with a poor photo; *K. Winkler, Pilgrim of the Clear Light. The Biography of Dr. W.Y.E.-W. 2013; Wikipedia with photo.
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