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Arthur Berriedale Keith

Sanskrit and India.

The library of Arthur Berriedale Keith (1879-1944), Regius Professor of Sanskrit and Comparative Philology here from 1914-1944, was given by his sister to the Library on his death. The third son of an Edinburgh news agent, Keith was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh before going on to study at Balliol College, Oxford. He was called to the English bar and served in the Colonial Office for fourteen years before being appointed to the Regius Chair of Sanskrit in 1914. He made great contributions to Vedic and classical Sanskrit scholarship. He was also called in to advise the Government during the abdication crisis in 1936.

The collection includes some 1,600 books and well over 1,500 pamphlets, mainly on Sanskrit and other Indian literature, history and politics, and the constitutional history of the British Empire. All material appears in the Library's pre-1985 main catalogue and there are basic online records for many items. There is also a shelflist available from staff.

The manuscript collection includes papers and correspondence including Colonial Office correspondence between 1901 and 1914; correspondence about constitutional matters from 1908 to 1939; correspondence with political figures such as R. Stafford Cripps and Herbert Samuel; material relating to the Government of India Bill, 1931-35, and to the Peace Treaty, 1919; material on Malta between 1924 and 1940; material on the Beaverbrook Case; material including correspondence with Muriel Blundell and Sylvia Pankhurst on British policy towards Italy after the invasion of Ethiopia; correspondence on the subject of Keith's revision of 'The law and custom of the Constitution'. There is also material relating to Keith's career and to general family matters. The papers are listed in the 'Guide to Arthur Berriedale Keith Papers and Correspondence, 1896-1941' by Ridgway F. Shinn Jr.(1981).