THOMAS, Frederick William

THOMAS, Frederick William. Wilnecote, Tamworth, Staffordshire 21.3.1867 — Branburg, Oxfordshire 6.5.1956. British Indologist. Professor in Oxford. Son of coal mine clerk Frederick Th., educated at King Edward’s School in Birmigham. Studied at Cambridge classics and Indology (under Cowell), graduated B.A. 1885. From 1892 Fellow of Trinity College. In 1891-98 worked as Headmaster’s Assistant in his old school. From 1898 Assistant Librarian in India Office, in 1903-27 Tawney’s successor as its Librarian, at the same time taught at University College (Lecturer in Comparative Philology 1908-35 and Reader of Tibetan Language 1909-37). From 1927 Boden Professor of Sanskrit and Fellow of Balliol College at Oxford. Retired in 1937. Despite growing deafness he remained active and kept his interest until advanced age. Visited India twice, 1920-21 and 1937-38. F.B.A. 1927, C.I.E. 1928. Hon. Dr. Munich, Allahabad, Birmingham. Married in 1908, a daughter and a son.

Thomas was a many-sided and skilled scholar (philologist), whose interests ranged from classical Sanskrit literature and Indian epigraphy to classical Tibetan texts and Central Asian inscriptions and manuscript fragments (among which he discovered the Nam language), from Buddhism to Jainism and classical Hindu philosophy. He wrote about 250 books and articles; the last one on the Żaṅ-Żuṅ language remained unfinished. He was an eager sportsman.

Publications: Transl. with E. B. Cowell: The Harṣacarita of Bāṇa. 12+284 p. L. 1897.

– “Subandhu and Bāṇa”, WZKM 12, 1898, 21-33; “Two Lists of Words from Bāṇa’s ‘Harṣacarita’”, JRAS 1899, 485-517; “The Jānakīharaṇa of Kumāradāsa”, JRAS 1901, 253-280.

– “The d-Suffix”, Trans. of Cambr. Philol. Soc. 5:2, 1900, 81-149.

– With Ch. H. Tawney: Catalogue of two Collections of Sanskrit Manuscripts in the India Office Library. 4+60 p. L. 1903.

Edited: “Deux collections sanscrites et tibétaines de Sādhanas”, Le Muséon 22 (N.S. 4), 1903, 1-42; Kavīndravacanasamuccaya, a Sanskrit Anthology of verse. 16+261 p. Bibl. Ind. Calcutta 1912 (i.e. Vidyākara’s Subhāṣitaratnakośa); “Bṛhaspatisūtra”, Le Muséon 33:2, 1915-16, 131-166; with transl.: Brihaspati Sutra or the Science of politics according to the school of Brihaspati. 20+3+32+31 p. Punjab Or. Ser. 1. Lahore 1921.

– “Notes from the Tanjur”, JRAS 1903, 345-354, 703-722, 785-790; 1904, 733-743; tr. from Tibetan: Mātṛceṭa, Varṇanārhavarṇana, IA 34, 1905, 145-163.

– “Sakastana”, JRAS 1906, 181-216 & 460-464; “Inscriptions on the Mathurâ Lion-Capital”, EI 9, 1907-08, 135-147; “The date of Kanishka”, JRAS 1913, 627-650.

– “The Aufrecht Collection”, JRAS 1908, 1029-1063 (mss. in Indian Office).

– “Notes on the Edicts of Asoka”, JRAS 1914-16 (cf. JRAS 1903 & 1912).

Edited: Epigr. Indica 13-16, 1915-22.

– Three chapters (18-20. Candragupta to Aśoka) in Cambridge History of India. 1. Cambridge 1922.

– “Tibetan Documents concerning Chinese Turkestan”, JRAS 1927, 51-85, 807-844; 1928, 63-98, 555-595; 1930, 47-94, 251-300; 1931, 807-836; 1933, 379-400, 537-568; 1934, 85-112, 249-282, 457-504 “Notes on the Kharoṣṭhī Documents from Chinese Turkestan”, AO 12, 1934, 37-70; 13, 1935, 46-80; with G. Clauson: “A Chinese Buddhist Text in Tibetan writing”, JRAS 1927, 508-526; “A Second Chinese Buddhist Text in Tibetan characters”, JRAS 1928, 281-306.

Tibetan literary texts and documents concerning Chinese Turkestan. 1-2. 10+223+470 p. Or. Transl. Fund N.S. London 1935-51, 3. Addenda et corrigenda. 8+199 p. L. 1955, 4. Indices. Ed. by E. Conze. 88 p. L.. 1963.

With A. B. Keith: Catalogue of the Sanskrit and Prakrit MSS. in the Library of the India Office. 1-2. 10+1851 p. L. 1935.

Indianism and its expansion. 107 p. Calcutta 1942.

– “Sino-Kharoṣṭhī Coins”, NC 6:4, 1944, 83-98.

Nam. An ancient language of the Sino-Tibetan borderland. 469 p. L. 1948.

– “Brāhmī Script in Central Asian Sanskrit Manuscripts”, Asiatica. Fs. Weller 1954, 667-700, 2 pl.

– Ancient Folk-Literature from North-Eastern Tibet. 9+203 p. A.D.A.W. 1952:3. B. 1957 (texts ad transl.).

Translated: The Flower-spray of the Quodammodo-Doctrine. Śri Mallisenasūri, Syādvāda-mañjari. 176 p. DAW Veröff. d. Inst. f. Orientforschung 46. B. 1960.

Research notes on the Zhangzhung language by Frederick W. Thomas at the British Library. Ed. by Ts. Takeuchi, B. Quessel and Y. Nagano. 5+246 p. Osaka 2011.

– Articles in JRAS, E.R.E., etc.

Sources: *P.K. Acharya, JGJKSV 15, 1957-58, 161-182; A.J. Arberry, D.N.B. Suppl. 1951-60, 964f. (rev. by *J. B. Katz, Oxford D.N.B. 2004); J. Bacot, JA 244, 1956, 439-441; L.D. Barnett, JRAS 1957, 142f.; Buckland, Dictionary; *H.N. Randle, Proc.Br.Acad. 44, 1958 (1959), 207-224, with bibliogr. 1940–57; Sengupta 1996, 245-254; E. Waldschmidt, *Jahrb. D.A.W. B. 1956525f., again in his Kleine Schr. 1989, 25f.; *anon., India Office Library Report for the year ended 31 March 1957. L. 1958, 1f. and photo; Epigr. Ind. 31, 1955-56, xiii, with photo; A Volume of Eastern and Indian Studies in honour of F.W.T. Bombay 1939, with bibliography; Wikipedia; photo in Sardesai.

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