We start this blog[post with warm congratulations to Amy Riach, our Outreach and Publicity Officer, and her husband, Olly, on the safe arrival of their son, Hamish, on the 18th June. We wish them all well.
And her maternity leave is being ably covered by Matty Bradley, photographed below in front of the painting, “The Palace of the King of Ava”, painted by a Burmese artist c.1832, and donated to the Society by Lt. Col. Henry Burney in 1841.
Matty Bradley was born and raised in Hackney, London. He graduated from Peterhouse, Cambridge, in 2013 with a degree in English, since then he has worked with a number of organisations including the TUC, SOAS, Creative Opportunities, and the Rose and Crown pub in Stoke Newington, as well as tutoring primary school children in English and maths. Interests outside of work include Japanese cinema, American novelists and the history of Los Alamos and the atom bomb.
We welcome Matty to be part of the team and hope that many of you will get to meet him in the coming months.
On Monday 18th June the Society was delighted to launch its most recent publication, ‘Ottoman Explorations of the Nile’, an English translation of the famous Ottoman traveller Evliya Çelebi’s account of his journey in Egypt and the Sudan and the accompanying map now in the Vatican Library. This publication forms part of the Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt series established in 2001 by his granddaughter Princess Fazilé Ibrahim for the publication of Ottoman documents of the pre-Tanzimat period. The authors, Robert Dankoff, Professor Emeritus of Turkish and Islamic Studies at the University of Chicago on his way to Italy with his grandson Theo, and Dr. Michael Sheridan of the University of Bilkent, attended and gave short talks on the importance and significance of Evliya and the map with its 475 entries. Dr. Nuran Tezcan, their co-author, was unable to attend, but was represented by her daughter Mina.
Finally, in Society news, I am pleased to say that the Catalogue for the Society’s Universities Prize Essay Fund is now online at Archives Hub. The Prize, which ran from the 1930s to the 1970s, replaced the Public School Medal and was awarded for an essay written by a student at university. Winners included Asa Briggs who won the Universities’ Essay Prize whilst a student at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1941 with a BA (Arts) as well as a BSc in Economics from the University of London’s Open Programme. He served in the Intelligence Corps working at Bletchley Park during World War II. After the war, he pursued an academic career at Oxford, Princeton, Leeds, Sussex, Oxford again and the Open University. In the 1976 Birthday Honours, he was created a life peer as Baron Briggs, of Lewes in the County of East Sussex. Between 1961 and 1995, Briggs wrote a five-volume text on the history of broadcasting in the UK from 1922 to 1974, essentially, the history of the BBC, who commissioned the work. Briggs’ other works ranged from an account of the period that Karl Marx spent in London to the corporate history of British retailer Marks and Spencer. In 1987, Lord Briggs was invited to be President of the Brontë Society, and was also President of the William Morris Society from 1978 to 1991 and President of the Victorian Society (UK) from 1986 until his death.
Simon Digby was another winner, who went on to a lifelong connection with the Royal Asiatic Society serving as the Honorary Librarian and adding significantly to the knowledge of some of our collections. And another winner was Dr Gordon Johnson, who has recently stepped down from his term of office as the Society’s President.
It was won twice by just one student – Gavin Richard Grenville Hambly, a student of King’s College Cambridge, who provided the prize essay in successive years in the mid 1950s.