The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 by the eminent Sanskrit scholar Henry Colebrooke and a group of likeminded individuals. It received its Royal Charter from King George IV in 1824 'for the investigation of subjects connected with and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to Asia'.

Throughout the course of the Society's history many distinguished scholars have contributed to its work, including Sir Richard Burton (1821-90) the noted explorer and first translator of the Arabian Nights and Kama Sutra and Sir Aurel Stein (1862-1943) the renowned archaeologist and explorer of the 'Silk Road'. The Society is affiliated to associate societies in India (Calcutta, Bombay, Bangalore, Madras, and Bihar), Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.


The Society provides a forum for those who are interested in the history, languages, cultures and religions of Asia to meet and exchange ideas. It offers lectures and seminars and it provides facilities for research and publishing.

The Library. This contains books and journals on a wide variety of subjects concerning Asia.  All collections are on closed access, so material is brought to visitors in the reading room.  Fellows of the Society are able to borrow books. Students and researchers are welcome to consult material by prior appointment.

The Collections. These include Persian, Arabic, Pali, Sanskrit, Malay and Javanese manuscripts. There is also an important collection of paintings, prints and drawings generously donated by fellows. Loans are frequently made to exhibitions.

Publications. The Society has an active publication programme in association with Routledge Curzon and aims to publish four or five books per year.

The Journal. This has been published since 1834 and is produced three times a year. It has an international reputation and is published for the Society by Cambridge University Press.

Lectures and Symposia. The Society organises a monthly lecture series covering a wide range of topics. Symposia and study days are arranged from time to time in areas that reflect the interests of the Society and its fellows.

Membership. The Society welcomes fellowship applications from anyone with a serious interest in Asian Studies. Fellows receive the journal four times a year and may make full use of the resources and facilities of the Society.

Venue Hire. The Society's premises are available for hire for lectures, meetings and conferences.