Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 September 2009
Annette Susannah Beveridge (1842–1929) was one of the outstanding oriental scholars of the early twentieth century. The work which established her reputation is her translation of the Bābur-nāma, the autobiographical memoir of the first Mughal emperor, published in 1922 by the Royal Asiatic Society. It was the first English translation from the Chaghatai Turki in which Babur wrote his famous account. A monumental work of scholarship, it is all the more remarkable for having been completed at a time when Chaghatai language studies were in their infancy. The translation is characterized by utter reliability and precision, exhaustive footnotes and numerous appendices: Western and Asian scholars continue to consult it as the standard translation of this classic Timurid text. Yet, despite the stature of her work, little is known about Beveridge herself, an unusual figure in the British orientalist landscape if only because she was a woman who raised four children and learned oriental languages when she was past the age of 50.
1 See Arbuthnot, F. F. obituary, journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, N.S., XXXIII (1901), p. 641.Google Scholar
2 William Beveridge Papers, British Library of Political Science, la 20–2, letter of Arbuthnot to A. S. Beveridge, October 29, 1900.
3 Beveridge, Annette S., “Life and writings of Gulbadan Begam (Lady Rosebody)”, Calcutta Review (04 1898), p. 345.Google Scholar Henry “wished me to attempt its translation”, she wrote.
4 See , A.S.B, “Notes on the MSS. of the Turki text of Babar's Memoirs” JRAS, N.S., XXXII (1900), p. 440.Google Scholar
6 Humāyūn-nāma, p. 76. One of the nine copies of Bayazid's memoirs of Humayun was given to Gulbadan; three other princesses received copies. In reading Bayazid, Annette noted a passage which told “something ‘bookish’” about one of the princesses wishing to get her book back from the author because she could not get another source “from the library”.
12 Brooke, Bibi, The Key of the Hearts of Beginners: A Set of Tales written down in Persian by Bibi Brooke, translated by Beveridge, Annette S. (London, 1908).Google Scholar Annette mentioned how she came upon the work in her preface, but did not say when this was, which is important in terms of her language skills. Although the book was not published until 1908, a letter to her son in early 1903 mentioned that the book had gone to press. (William Beveridge Papers, BLPS, IIa19, Jan. 9, 1903Google Scholar.)
26 This is inferred from Will's mentioning her gardening skills prominently in the obituary he wrote for his mother in The Times.
28 Beveridge Papers, India Office, EUR MSS C176/161,1 have been unable to establish the divorce date, but it was final by December, 1894 since Aunt Em wrote to Annette, on Dec. 24, 1894Google Scholar, referring to the “North divorce”.
32 William Beveridge Papers, BLPS, IIa 17, A., to W., , May 27, 1898Google Scholar. She was enthusiastic both about the Sampson Low response and that she was getting good response on her article.
33 Beveridge Papers, India Office, EUR MSS C176/143, A., to Tutu, , Feb. 8, 1898Google Scholar. Until the fall of 1898, when she entered Bedford College, Tutu was attending a Swiss school, possibly only for a semester. Since the letter to Tutu was written before the article appeared, Annette must have sent Phear a pre-publication version.
35 William Beveridge Papers, BLPS, IIa25, A., to W., , Feb. 15, 1917Google Scholar. “Your father praised me!” she wrote when Henry told her she had accomplished a good deal in making an appendix for a collection of Babur's poems.
38 Humāyūn-nāma, pp. 2–3Google Scholar: she notes Babur did not mention Gulbadan's mother in the Persian translation, but did in the Turki where he styled her aghacha, a lady. Here she may have been relying on Erskine's translation of Babur. Erskine had incorporated as much of the work of John Leyden as he could—Leyden had been working from the Turki before his premature death. Still Annette did not cite Erskine on the point, which would have been more in character.
39 William Beveridge Papers, BLPS, IIa18, A., to W., , May 8, 1901Google Scholar. The two earlier lessons were mentioned in letters of April 30 and May 2.
41 Beveridge, A. S., “Notes on the MSS. of the Turki text of Babar's Memoirs”, JRAS, N.S., XXXIII (1901), pp. 439–449.Google Scholar
42 Beveridge Papers, India Office, EUR MSS C176/190, Allen, Alice to Annette, , Mar. 20, 1892Google Scholar. “Father quite shares our liking for Babur's Memoirs. We now have Bernier's Travels. Those old Moguls were a murdering lot and so horribly cruel”. Alice, who had been a friend of the Beveridge children, was writing from India.
44 Mountstuart Elphinstone Papers, cited in Grewal, J. S., Muslim Rule in India (Calcutta, 1970), p. 132.Google Scholar
45 Beveridge, Henry, “Notes on Persian MSS. in Indian libraries”, JRAS, N.S., XXXIII (1901), pp. 83–84.Google Scholar
46 Beveridge, A. S., “Further notes on the MSS of the Turki text of Babar's Memoirs” JRAS, N.S., XXXIV (1902), pp. 657.Google Scholar
65 Cited in Showalter, Elaine, A Literature of Their Own: British Women Novelists from Bronte to Lessing (Princeton, 1977), p. 97.Google Scholar
66 Given that Annette was one of the first women to toil in the vineyard of Mughal scholarship, it is ironic that another woman, Winifred Holmes, writing on Gulbadan in the 1950s, failed to credit Annette's work, and seems to have come very near plagiarizing it-certainly William Beveridge thought so. He challenged Holmes in the matter in an extensive memorandum comparing passages, demonstrating that Holmes's article and essay were simply a retelling of Annette's work. Holmes backed off, blaming her publishers. See Holmes, Winifred, “The Arwhale-e-Humayun by Gulbadan Begum”, Islamic Quarterly, I/3 (1954–1955)Google Scholar; and her Crescent and Cross (London, 1955).Google Scholar Chapter 8; and William Beveridge Papers, BLPS, Ia20–22, Memorandum of Dec. 10, 1956Google Scholar.
67 A separate Persian phrase, “uterine brother”, applied to just such a relationship: Humāyūn-nāma, pp. 237–238.Google Scholar
68 Beveridge, A. S., “A suggestion for the second edition of Mr. Blochmann's Ain”, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, LX1V, Part 1, No. 2 (1895), pp. 163–165.Google Scholar
69 This is a theme I develop in the life of Beveridge I am writing.
76 Beveridge Papers, India Office, EUR MSS C176/27, A., to Henry, , Oct. 15, 1890Google Scholar. This was a month after Herman's death.
77 Just how Annette verified this, I do not know—perhaps through a personal contact in India, or perhaps there were records in India she could reach with the help of contacts at the Asiatic Society of Bengal.
78 Annette did not indicate what work of Hunter's it was in; perhaps his Rural Annals of Bengal.
81 Beveridge Papers, India Office, Eur MSS C176/177, Nichols, Ellen to A., , Dec. 11, 1865Google Scholar.
82 Fussell's, Paul The Great War and Modern Memory (London, 1975)Google Scholar addresses the subject of the war as a great divide between the lexicons of lofty and low.
90 William Beveridge Papers, BLPS, IIa20, A., to W., , May 3, 1905Google Scholar. A recenc book on Mary Magdalen and how her image evolved from early to later Christian times stresses the same point Annette made about Christ's having treated women as equals. See Haskins, Susan, Mary Magdalen: Myth and Metaphor (New York, 1994).Google Scholar