THOMAS, Edward Joseph. Thornhill, Yorkshire 30.7.1869 — Cambridge (?)11.2.1958. British Indologist. Librarian in Cambridge. Son of a gardener, he left school when 14 and worked himself as a gardener for 12 years, enjoying his time among flowers despite his colour-blindness and using his free time in studies of science and classical languages in London. In 1896 began studies at St.Andrews (M.A. 1901 in Classics), then at Cambridge (Emmanuel College, B.A. 1905 in Linguistics), where he started Sanskrit and Pāli. Worked in Cambridge University Library: from 1909 Under-Librarian in Dept. of foreign books, later on Head of Oriental Languages Department. Retired in 1940, but was soon asked to return as the Librarian of Oriental Department, finally retired in 1950. D.Litt. St.Andrews. Married with a German lady, no children.
Thomas was a shy and secluse, but a deeply learned person. He left his personal library to Peradeniya.
Publications: Edited: Plautus, Aulularia. 1913; Danish Conversation Grammar. 1926.
– Edited with L. de La Vallée Poussin: Mahāniddesa. 1-2. L. P.T.S. 1916-17.
– Transl. from Sanskrit: Hymns from the Rigveda. 128 p. The Wisdom of the East Series. L. 1923 (61 hymns and fragments); The Quest of Enlightenment. 89 p. L. 1950.
– Transl. from Pāli:Early Buddhist Scriptures. A Selection. 25+232 p. L. 1935; The Road to Nirvāṇa: a selection of the Buddhist Scriptures. 7+95 p. Wisdom of the East Series. L. 1950.
– The Life of Buddha as Legend and History. 297 p. 1927; The History of Buddhist Thought. 16+314 p. L. 1933.
– Bhagavadgita. The Song of the Lord. Transl. with introd. and notes. 123 p. Wisdom of the East Series. L. 1931.
– The perfection of wisdom: the career of the predestined Buddhas. 90 p. Wisdom of the East Series. L. 1952.
Sources: Peiris, Buddhism 49-52 with photo from Sardesai; *F. H. Stubbings, Emmanuel College Magazine 11; Wikipedia.