Yesterday evening (28th April), the RAS hosted the official launch of the Thomas Manning Archive. We were delighted to welcome many guests, among whom were members of the Manning family, representatives of the funding and advisory bodies which enabled the acquisition of the archive, researchers and other professionals, and RAS fellows. Part of the archive was placed on display so that attendees could see a sample of the material now available for research.
After perusing these items, guests were invited to join us in a celebration drink in the Lecture Room. Gordon Johnson, President of the RAS, welcomed everybody and spoke on the archive and its meaning both to the Society and in furthering the understanding of early Orientalism.
This was followed by a talk from Ed Weech, RAS Librarian, in which he expressed our grateful thanks to all the organisations and individuals who have worked with the RAS in providing both funding and advice to enable the Archive to be added to our collections.
The final talk was given by RAS Archivist, Nancy Charley, in which she outlined a few of the highlights of the collection and how they give insight into some of the character and motivations of Thomas Manning. The collection is, currently, almost completely listed and work will begin in May to put the information on to the online catalogue, Archives Hub.
After these talks, there was a small reception and guests were given the chance to look further at the materials on display. We would like to thank everyone who came to the evening for making it such a pleasurable occasion and we look forward to welcoming many of you to the Reading Room, in the future, to use the material for your researches.
Coinciding with this launch event, we are also pleased to announce that the Times Literary Supplement accepted an article about the Thomas Manning Archive which is to be found in today’s issue, April 29, 2016. “After the fashion of their country” relates the story of both the acquisition of the archive and. more importantly, the life of Thomas Manning and some of the details that we have discovered in working with this new archive. The title for the article comes from a letter that Thomas wrote to his father, William Manning, on his arrival in Penang, en route for Canton. He said, “This is an epitome of all India. One part of the town is inhabited by the Malays. one by Bengalese, one by the Matabors – here from the Coroman Del coast – there from Siam and Pekin & everywhere throngs of Chinese – all the people living after the fashion of their country”. This is just one of the many comments we find in Manning’s letters and notes that give us some insight into the things and places that Manning experienced on his voyages.
The next event in the RAS Calendar is the Anniversary General Meeting on Thursday 12th May at 5.30pm. This will be followed by the Presentation of the Denis Sinor Medal to Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams (SOAS), after which he will lecture on “The Bactrian Archives: Reconstructing the lost history of ancient Afghanistan”. We would encourage all members to attend the AGM and welcome everyone to Professor Sims- Williams lecture.