About Me

Reynold Nicholson's Biography (Books)

To Authors Index

Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, or R. A. Nicholson (18 August 1868 - 27 August 1945), was an eminent English orientalist, scholar of both Islamic literature and Islamic mysticism and widely regarded as one of the greatest Rumi scholars and translators in the English language.

Son of paleontologist Henry Alleyne Nicholson, Nicholson was born in Keighley, West Riding of Yorkshire, England and died in Chester, Cheshire. Educated at Aberdeen University and Trinity College, Cambridge, Nicholson was lecturer in the Persian language at University College London from June 1902 to 1926, and Sir Thomas Adams's Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge from 1926 to 1933. He is considered a leading scholar in Islamic literature and Islamic mysticism who exercised a lasting influence on Islamic studies. He was able to study and translate major Sufi texts in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish to English. Nicholson wrote two very influential books: Literary History of The Arabs (1907) and The Mystics of Islam (1914).

Nicholson's magnum opus as his work on Rumi's Masnavi, published in eight volumes between 1925 and 1940. He produced the first critical Persian edition of the Masnavi, the first full translation of it into English, and the first commentary on the entire work in English. This work has been highly influential in the field of Rumi studies worldwide.

Nicholson translated the famous Persian book on sufism Kashf ul Mahjoob in English written by famous saint of Subcontinent Ali Hujwiri Daata Ganj Bakhsh

Being a teacher of the then Indian scholar and poet Muhammad Iqbal, Nicholson translated Iqbal's first philosophical Persian poetry book Asrar-i-Khudi into English as The Secrets of the Self.

Reynold Alleyne Nicholson's other significant translations:

- The Sufi treatise of Hujviri
- Rumi's Mathnawi and Divan e Shams
- Ibn Arabi's Tarjuman al-Aswaq
- Poetry by the Sindhi language poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai

Among Nicholson's students is A. J. Arberry, a translator of Rumi and the Quran.

To Authors Index