WINSTEDT, Richard Olaf. Oxford 2.8.1878 — Putney, London 2.6.1966. Sir. British South-East Asian (Malay) Scholar. Son of a naturalized Swedish father and English mother, Sarah Castell. Educated at Magdalen College School and New College, Oxford. In 1902 joined Malayan Civil Service, served first in Perak. From 1913 District Officer at Kuala Pilah (Negri Sembilan), from 1923 Acting Secretary to High Commissioner. In 1924-31 Director of Education, Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States, also Member of Legislative Council, Straits S., and in 1927-31 of Federal Council, Fed. Malay States. In 1921-31 first President of Raffles College (of future Singapore University). In 1931-35 General Adviser to Johore State. Retired from Malayan service in 1935. In 1936-39 Member of Colonial Office Advisory Committee on Education. In 1935-37 Lecturer, 1937-46 Reader in Malay, University of London (S.O.A.S.). In 1938-59 Member of Governing Body, S.O.A.S. D.Litt. 1920 Oxford. C.M.G. 1926, K.B.E. 1935. Hon. Fellow 1946 S.O.A.S. Since 1940 often Director and President of R.A.S. F.B.A. 1951. Hon. LL.D. 1951 Malaya. Married 1921 Sarah O’Flynn (1886–1972), an Irish physician and suffragist.
Winstedt was one of the best scholars of the Malay language in his times. Unlike his British colleagues, he also studied the dialects spoken in Indonesia. From Indological point of view, important are his many studies on Indian influence in Malaya. He travelled much, visiting China, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, India, Iran, and the Near East, also in Europe and North America. His brother was Eric Otto Winstedt (1880–1955), classical philologist and the editor of Cosmas Indicopleustes (1909).
Publications: Malay Grammar. 205 p. Oxford 1913, then several editions; Malay dictionaries.
– Shaman, Saiva and Sufi. A study of the evolution of Malay Magic. 7+191 p. L. 1923, rev. ed. as The Malay Magician: being Shaman, Saiva, and Sufi. 7+160 p. 4 pl. L. 1951.
– A History of Malaya. 250 p. JRAS-MB 13:1. Singapore 1935; History of Malay Literature. 4+243 p. JRAS-MB 17:3. Singapore 1940; The Malays: a cultural history. 162 p. Singapore 1947.
– Numerous further books, articles and reviews, edited Malay texts.
Sources: JRAS 1963, 125-129; *Bibliography in Malayan and Indonesian Studies … presented to Sr. R.W. on his 85th Birthday. 1963; *E.C.G. Barrett, BSOAS 30, 1967, 272-275; *J. Bastin in C.E. Bosworth (ed.), A Century of British Orientalists 1902–2002. Oxford 2001, 248-256; H.L. Shorto, JRAS 1967, 58f.; Wikipedia; photo in BSOAS 27, 1963.