Edward Granville Browne

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Edward Granville Browne about 1900
Edward Granville Browne in traditional Persian dress
Edward Granville Browne in traditional Persian dress

Edward Granville Browne (born February 7, 1862 in Stouts Hill , Uley , Gloucestershire , England , † January 5, 1926 in Cambridge ) was a British orientalist who published numerous articles and books mainly in the fields of history and literature of Persia.


As "Sir Thomas Adams' Professor of Arabic" at the University of Cambridge , he devoted his main work to Persian philology . At Cambridge University, Browne was responsible for establishing a school for oriental languages, which was important in the context of civil servant training for Egypt and Sudan, as well as for the Lebanese consular service.

His History of Persian Literature ( A Literary History of Persia ), which appeared in 1902, 1906, 1920 and 1924, is only obsolete to this day.

The scientific value of his works was recognized both during his lifetime and after his death. Browne was best known for his publications on Babism and later on the Baha'i religion. He published two translations of the Babi story and wrote some of the few Western books on early Babi and Baha'i history .

He was primarily concerned with areas that few other Western scholars had previously explored. In his publications he expressed himself respectfully to all persons, including those whom he was personally averse. In 1893 he published a respectful account of Persian culture that had never existed before. This work became a classic in English travel literature after his death.

Browne worked at a time when the Persian population was very skeptical of foreigners and especially of the British and Russians. Browne and his scientific publications are known and respected in Iran, and to this day a street named after him in Tehran and a monument that remained after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 commemorates him .

Despite his work on the Baha'i religion, Browne never became a Baha'i, but as an orientalist studied the young faith. His interest in Babism was aroused by a book by the French diplomat Comte de Gobineau , which he came across while researching Sufism . Browne translated Abdul-Baha's work "A Traveller's Narrative" and added an introduction and an appendix. Browne was intrigued by the development of the Baha'i's written historical perspectives on the succession plan after the Bab, including their idea of ​​an independent dispensation from Baha'u'llah . This work was devoted to Baha'u'llah to a greater extent than the Bab and took a critical stance towards Subh-i-Azal (Mirza Yahya), which Gobineau lists as the successor of the Bab. Browne expressed sympathy for Mirza Yahya and was amazed at the attitude of the Baha'i towards them.

In 1903 he was elected a member ( Fellow ) of the British Academy .

Edward Browne married in 1906 and had two sons.


After his death in 1925, the Persian scholar Mirza Muhammad Qazvini wrote :

"The existence of Browne was for Persia a God-given blessing."

"The existence of Browne was a god-given blessing to Persia."

- Mirza Muhammad Qazvini :

Works (selection)

  • Bábism . In: Religious Systems of the World: A Contribution to the Study of Comparative Religion . Swann Sunshine, London 1890, p. 335-353 ( online ).
  • A Year among the Persians. Impressions as to the Life, Character, & Thought of the People of Persia. Received during Twelve Months' Residence in that Country in the Year 1887-1888 . Cambridge 1927 ( online ).
  • A Literary History of Persia . tape I-IV . Cambridge 1928 (new edition 1951).
  • Edward G. Browne (1910): The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909 (reprints 1995, 2006)
  • The Persian Crisis of December, 1911. University Press, Cambridge 1912 ( PDF in the Internet Archive , 2.2 MB).


  • F. Babinger: Obituary for Edward Granville Browne . In: Islam . tape 16 , 1924, pp. 114 .
  • ED Ross: Browne, Edward Granville (1862-1926). In: Henry Colin Gray Matthew, Brian Harrison (Eds.): Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , from the earliest times to the year 2000 (ODNB). Oxford University Press, Oxford 2004, ISBN 0-19-861411-X , ( oxforddnb.com license required ), as of 2004 (rev. John Gurney).
  • Hasan Balyuzi : Edward Granville Browne and the Bahá'í Faith . Ed .: George Ronald. Oxford, UK 1970, ISBN 0-85398-023-3 .
  • Christopher NB Ross: Lord Curzon and EG Browne Confront the 'Persian Question' . In: Historical Journal . tape 52 , no. 2 , 2009, p. 385-411 , doi : 10.1017 / S0018246X09007511 .
  • Moojan Momen (Ed.): Selections from the Writings of EG Browne on the Bábí and Bahá'í Religions . George Ronald, Oxford 1987, ISBN 0-85398-247-3 .

Web links

Commons : Edward Granville Browne  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Deceased Fellows. British Academy, accessed May 10, 2020 .
  2. David Blow: Iran's love-hate relationship with the UK. British Broadcasting Corporation , September 29, 2001, accessed April 8, 2010 .