ROSS, Edward Denison. London 6.6.1871 — Istanbul 23.9.1940. Sir. British Oriental (Persian) Scholar in India. Professor in London. Son of Rev. Alexander J. Ross, D.D., the vicar of St.Philip’s in Stepney, educated in Marlborough and University College, London. Further studies of Arabic and Persian in Paris (under Scheferand Renan) and Strassburg (Nöldeke). In 1896-1901 Professor of Persian at University College, London. From 1901 Principal of Calcutta Madrasah, from 1911 also Officer in Charge of Records of the Government of India and Assistant Secretary in Department of Education. Fellow of Calcutta University and active member of the A.S.B. Back in England in 1914 he arranged M. Aurel Stein’s collections as Assistant in Prints and Drawings Department, British Museum. His knowledge of many (also European) languages was used in the Intelligence Department during the war. From 1916 the Administrator of the newly founded S.O.A.S. (then called S.O.S.) and its Professor of Persian, held both offices until the end of 1937, when he had to retire. As a personal friend of Atatürk he was made in 1940 the head of British Information Bureau at Istanbul, with the rank of Counsellor, but died soon. C.I.E. 1912, Sir 1918. Married 1904 Dora Robinson (d. 1940), no children.
Originally a Persian and Arabic scholar, Ross studied in Calcutta Sanskrit, Chinese, and especially Tibetan. He travelled much in Europe and Asia, and with F. H. Skrine in Central Asia. The organizing of the S.O.A.S. was an important achievement. As a scholar he was accused of being too many-sided and therefore somewhat superficial. He was said to have a good sense of humour and a dislike of pedantry.
Publications: A number of publications on Arabic, Persian and Turkish studies; articles in JRAS, BSOS, etc.
– Transl. The Tarikh-i-Rashidi, a History of the Moguls of Central Asia. 26+535 p. L. 1898 (by Mirza Ḥaidar).
– With F. H. Skrine: The Heart of Asia. A History of Russian Turkestan and the Central Asian Khanates from the Earliest Times. 11+444 p. 31 pl. L. 1899.
– Edited: An Arabic History of Gujarat. 1-3. 210+1067 p. L. 1910-21-29 (by Omar al-Makki); History of Gujarat. 14+110 p. B.I. Calcutta 1908 (by Abū Turāb Valī).
– A Polyglot List of Birds in Turki, Manchu and Chinese. Edited, with identifications, notes and indices. M.A.S.B. 9:2. Calcutta 1909, 253-340.
– Edited: Csoma de Kőrös: Sanskrit–Tibetan–English Vocabulary: being an edition of the Mahāvyutpatti. M.A.S.B. 4:1-2. Calcutta 1910-11, and vol. 3 ed. by S. C. Vidyabhushan. Calcutta 1942.
– Alphabetical list of the titles of works in the Chinese Buddhist Tripitaka, being an index to Bunyiy Nanjio’s Catalogue and to the 1905 reprint of the Buddhist Canon. 97 p. Calcutta 1910.
– The Poems of Emperor Babur. 6+43 p. Calcutta 1910.
– Contributed to the Cambridge History of India. Vol. 3. Cambridge 1928.
– Sir Anthony Sherley and His Persian Adventure, including Some Contemporary Narratives Relating Hereto. 38+293 p. 8 pl. Broadway Travellers. L. 1933.
– Edited by A. D. Ross, Both Ends of the Candle. 345 p. L. 1943 (autobiography).
– Editor of the Broadway Travellers.
Sources: *Autobiography above; Buckland, Dictionary; *I. Galambos, “‘Touched a nation’s heart’: Sir E. Denison Ross and Alexander Csoma de Körös”, JRAS 21, 2011, 361-375; H.A.R. Gibb, JRAS 1941, 49-52; R.L.T[urner], BSOS 10, 1940-42, 832-836; *Chr. Woodhead, Oxford D.N.B.; Wikipedia briefly (more in German version), with portrait and photo; more pictures in https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp03868/sir-edward-denison-ross.
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