RAS Acquires Terence Stannus Gray/Wei Wu Wei Archives

The Royal Asiatic Society is delighted to have accepted two archive collections pertaining to the life and work of Terence Stannus Gray (1895-1986), who authored numerous works on Daoism and Chinese philosophy under the pen name Wei Wu Wei.

A prominent literary figure with diverse interests, Gray’s early career saw him become a successful theatre producer in Cambridge. He later turned his attention to philosophy and metaphysics, and after travelling in Asia, Gray began to write about Daoism. As Wei Wu Wei, he would eventually publish eight books on Daoist thought, and his publications represent an important moment in the reception of Daoism in post-war Britain.

Researchers will now be able to consult Gray’s substantial archive pertaining to his research and writing on Chinese philosophy. The archive includes letters and correspondence, research notes, drafts, and manuscripts. The collection complements the recently-acquired archives of Sinologists Thomas Manning (1772-1840) and A. C. Graham (1919-1991), and will further enhance knowledge about how British scholars over the centuries have sought to translate, interpret, and apply China’s intellectual traditions to enrich British literary life and culture.

The Society also welcomes the deposit of a large archive reflecting Gray’s deep and longstanding interest in the history of Georgia and the Caucasus. In particular, this covers his research into the history of the Bagrationi Dynasty, which reigned in Georgia from the Middle Ages until the early nineteenth century. In 1957, Gray married Princess Natalia Margaret Bagrationi of Imereti (Imeretinsky), who assisted with his Daoist research while also helping establish and administer the ‘Conseil Bagration’. This initiative encouraged research into the history of Georgia and the exiled Bagrationi family, most of whom left Georgia in the years after the Russian Revolution. Personal connections helped the Conseil to collate extensive historical and genealogical information, and the archive incorporates Bagrationi family correspondence, memoirs, and photographs.

The Conseil Bagration Archive is an invaluable resource for the study of the history of Georgia and the Bagrationi family. It complements the Society’s archive of historian W. E. D. Allen (1901-1973), who founded the Georgian Society in 1930 with Sir Oliver Wardrop and corresponded extensively with Gray and Princess Natalia.

We are also delighted to have received a painting of Terence Stannus Gray, depicting him in later life, during the period of his interest in Daoism.


Portrait of Terence Stannus Gray


These collections have been donated and deposited by the family of Terence Stannus Gray and Natalia Bagrationi of Imereti. We look forward to making the archives available to researchers in due course. In the meantime, we invite anyone with questions about the collections to get in touch.


Terence Stannus Gray and Natalia Bagrationi of Imereti at work in their Study


In other news, readers may be interested to know that the July issue of the Literary Review carries a piece by the Society’s Librarian, reviewing a recent biography of Romantic essayist Charles Lamb. Lamb was best friend and correspondent of Thomas Manning (1772-1840), Sinologist and RAS Hon. Chinese Librarian. The review can be read online at https://literaryreview.co.uk/the-man-with-the-golden-pun.