THOMPSON, Edward John. Hazel Grove, Stockport 9.4.1886 — Bledlow, Buckinghamshire 28.4.1946. British Wesleyan Missionary and Author in India. Son of John Moses Th. (d. 1894), a missionary in South India, and his wife Elizabeth, born during the family’s furlough in England. Educated in Bath, for a while worked in a bank. Studied at Richmond Theological College (ordained 1910) and London (M.A.). Came to India in 1910, worked as teacher of English, later Vice-Principal at Bankura Wesleyan College in Bengal. In 1916-18 war service in Mesopotamia. He became friend of Tagore (later estranged) and, as a critic of the colonial rule, personally knew Gandhi, Nehru and Iqbal. Returned to England in 1923 and resigned from priesthood. University Lecturer in Bengali at Oxford from 1923. Ph.D. 1926 London. Several visits to India. Married 1919 Theodosia Jessup, two sons.
Tagore himself was not pleased with the 1926 book, but to Thompson it brought the London Ph.D. He has been characterized as “a well meaning but not very successful Anglo-Indian goodwill ambassador [who] was listened to but did not have enough clout to influence policy in London or in New Delhi” (K. Natwar Singh quoted in Wikipedia).
Publications: Transl. from Bengali with A. M. Spencer: Bengali Religious Lyrics. Śākta. 103 p. Calcutta & Oxford 1923.
– Rabindranath Tagore. His Life and Works. 123 p. Calcutta 1921; Rabindranath Tagore. Poet and dramatist. 12+327 p. L. 1926; Suttee. A Historical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Hindu Rite of Widow-Burning. 107 p. L. 1928.
– A history of India. 76 p. 1927.
– With Theodosia Thompson: Three eastern plays with a terminal essay on “Suttee”. 128 p. L. 1927.
– The Reconstruction of India. 12+404 p. L. 1930; The Rise and Fulfilment of British Rule in India. 12+690 p. L. 1934; The Life of Charles, Lord Metcalfe. 15+439 p. L. 1937.
– Ethical Ideals in India Today. L. 1942; The Making of the Indian Princes. 12+304 p. L. 1943.
– A Farewell to India. 1925, and other novels, five collections of poetry.
– Oma Das Gupta: A Difficult Friendship: Letters of Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore 1913–1940. 8+243 p. N.D. 2003, by her also Alien Homage: ETh and Rabindranath Tagore. N.D. 1993 (letters?).
Sources: *M. Lago, India’s Prisoner. A Biography of E.J.T. Columbia & London 2001; Wikipedia.
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