February 1862: The birth of the Orientalist Edward Granville Browne

Edward Granville Browne was born on 7 February 1862 in Uley, Gloucestershire, Britain. Although he initially studied engineering and later medicine, it was his love of the Orient and oriental languages that determined his choice of profession and was to bring him fame as one of Europe's most renowned orientalists. His interest in Turkey was aroused very early through the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78. He learned Turkish while still studying medicine and later learned Persian and Arabic as well. A two-month sojourn in Istanbul in 1882 intensified his interest in the Orient still further.

Around the year 1884, as he later reported, he became acquainted with the religion of the Báb through reading Gobineau' s Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l 'Asie Centrale. Gobineau's book, or rather those parts that dealt with the Bábi Faith, impressed Browne so much that he later described it as a 'masterpiece of historical composition'. He continued: 'I had long ardently desired to visit Persia and above all Shiraz, and this desire was now greatly intensified. But whereas I had previously wished to see Shiraz because it was the home of Hafiz and Sa’di, I now wished to see it because it was the birthplace of Mirza 'Ali Muhammad the Báb.' (Udo Schaefer, ‘Making the Crooked Straight’)