PALMER, Edward Henry. Cambridge 7.8.1840 — Sinai Peninsula 11.8.1882. British Oriental Scholar and Asian traveller. Son of William Henry P., a private schoolmaster, lost early his father. After school in Cambridge he was sent to London as a clerk. After a serious attack of tuberculosis returned and recovering began studies at Cambridge, St.John’s College (B.A. and Fellow 1867, M.A. 1870). In 1869 joined an expedition surveying Sinai. From 1871 Lord Almoner’s Professor of Arabic at Cambridge (a poorly paid position), also Examiner of Hindustani to Civil Service Commission. Resigned 1881 and went to Egypt on a secret mission. Shot, probably by robbers. Married 1871 Laura Davis (d. 1878), a second marriage in 1879.
He began his Oriental studies under Sayyid Abdallah, who taught Hindustani at the university, but soon concentrated on Persian and Arabic. He had great talent in languages and is said to have spoken fluently all three. He was a personal friend of Iqbal ud-Daula of Oudh. As a youngster he had also learned Romani.
Publications: An Address to the People of India on the death of Mir Syud Mohummed Khan Bahadoor … late Tehseeldar of Jubbulpore. In Arabic and English. Cambridge 1868.
–The Desert of the Exodus: journeys on foot in the wilderness of the forty years’ wanderings; undertaken in connexion with the ordnance survey of Sinai, and the Palestine exploration fund. 1-2. Cambridge 1871.
– With C. G. Leland & J. Tuckey: English Gipsy Songs in Rommany, with metrical English Translations. 12+276 p. L. 1875.
– A Simplified Grammar of Hindūstānī, Persian and Arabic. 7+104 p. L., Trübner 1882, 3rd ed. 1890.
– Much on Persian and Arabic, i.al. the translation of the Qur‘ān in the S.B.E. 1880.
Sources: *W. Besant, Life and achievements of Edward Henry Palmer. L. 1883; Dawson & Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology. 2nd rev. ed. 1972; Fück 209; S.L[ane]-P[oole], D.N.B. 43, 1895, 122-126; Wikipedia with drawing.
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