ARCHER, William George. 11.2.1907 — 6.3.1979. British Ethnologist and Art Historian of India. In India 1931–48, then at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Son of William A., educated at Strand School. Studied history at Cambridge (Emmanuel College) and aspired for a good position in Whitehall, but poor success (bad handwriting) at the Home and I.C.S. Examination changed his plans. In 1931 he came to India for I.C.S., was posted in Bihar and soon developed an interested in Indian things. Began as Sub-Divisional Officer, then 1938-39 District Magistrate in Purnea, 1939-41 Super-Intendent of the Census in Bihar, 1941-42 District Magistrate in Patna, 1942-45 Deputy Commissioner of the Santal Parganas, then 1945-46 Special Officer investigating Santal Law, and 1946-48 Additional Deputy Commissioner in the Naga Hills. In 1934 married with Mildred A., one son, one daughter.
In 1948 WGA returned to England. In 1949-59 Keeper of the Indian Section of the Victoria and Albert Museum, from 1959 Keeper emeritus. He began his scholarly career as Ethnologist, but in Patna interested soon in Mali and Maithili paintings, and concentrated in art history. Wrote, among other works, a monumental handbook of Pahari miniatures.
Publications: The Blue Grove: the Poetry of the Uraons. 210 p. L. 1940; The Vertical Man: A Study in Primitive Indian Sculpture. 122 p. L. 1947 (Ahirs); The Hill of Flutes. Life, Love, and Poetry in Tribal India. A Portrait of the Santals. 379 p. L. 1972; Tribal law and justice: a report on the Santal. 1-3. 36+7+741 p. N.D. 1984; Edited: Man in India 1942-49.
– Songs for the Bride: Wedding Rites of rural India. Ed. by B. S. Miller & M. Archer. 40+181 p. Studies in Oriental Cultures 20. N. Y. 1985.
– Indian painting in the Punjab Hills. 98 p. L. 1952; Kangra painting. 24 p. 10 pl. L. 1952; Bazaar paintings of Calcutta. 76 p. L. 1953; Garhwal painting. 24 p. 10 pl. L. 1954; Indian painting. 1957; The loves of Krishna. Indian painting and poetry. 127 p. 39 pl. L. 1957; Indian paintings from Rajasthan. 1957; Central Indian painting. 22 p. L. 1958; Indian painting in Bundi and Kotah. 58 p. L. 1959; India and modern art. 143 p. L. 1959; Indian miniatures. L. 1960; Kalighat drawings. 1962; Paintings of the Sikhs. 284 p. L. 1966; Kalighat paintings. A Catalogue and an Introduction. 127 p. L. 1971.
– with M. Archer: Indian painting for the British 1770–1880. 145 p. 24 pl. L. 1955.
– with S. Paranavitana: Ceylon: paintings from temple shrine and rock. 1958.
– edited: Kāma Sūtra, translated by Sir R. Burton and F. F. Arbuthnot. 296 p. L. 1963; Love Songs of Vidyāpati. Transl. by Deben Bhattacharya, edited with an introd., notes and comments by W. G. A. 148 p. L. 1963; Koka Shāstra, being the Ratirahasya of Kokkoka. L. 1964 (tr. by A. Comfort); The Gulistān or Rose Garden of Sa‘dī. 265 p. L. 1964 (tr. by E. Rehatsek).
– Indian paintings from the Punjab Hills. 1–2. 1972.
Sources: R. Skelton, JRAS 1979, 186–188; Who Was Who 1970-80.