BAGLEY, FRANK RONALD CHARLES (b. 15 October 1915, Cheshire, England/d. 7 August 1997, Kent, England; Figure 1), British diplomat, translator, and professor of Persian and Arabic at Durham University and McGill University.

Bagley was born into an affluent and highly educated family in Cheshire, England. Late in the 1910s, he attended St. Peter’s Court Preparatory School in Broadstairs, Kent. Later he attended the famous English boarding school, Eton College, at Windsor, where he was a King’s Scholar. On a Williams Exhibition scholarship, Bagley then attended Balliol College, Oxford, to pursue his studies toward a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE). He graduated in 1937.

Between 1938 and 1952, Bagley worked for the Foreign Office. As a diplomat, he was posted to Turin, Lisbon, Baghdad, Budapest, Isfahan, and Batavia (Jakarta). He had passed Foreign Office examinations in Arabic and Persian, and the Middle East, particularly Iran, was at the center of his studies and diplomatic activities. He was British Consul in Isfahan in 1952, when the British and American diplomats were expelled from Iran amid the dispute over the nationalization of the oil industry in the country (see ANGLO-PERSIAN OIL COMPANY). After leaving the Foreign Office in 1952, Bagley settled into an academic career. He first taught Arabic at McGill University in Canada from 1952 to 1958. Afterwards, he joined Durham University in England, where he was appointed as Lecturer in Persian Studies, the position he held until his retirement in 1981.

Bagley’s first publication, titled Arabs and the Middle East, was a 20-page booklet issued in limited number in 1956 by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs in Toronto. The book presents an analysis of the events and trends in the Middle East during this formative phase of the seizure of power in Egypt by Gamal Abdel Nasser (Jamāl ʿAbd-al-Nāṣer). In the 1960s, Bagley’s English translation of Abu Ḥāmed Moḥammad Ḡazāli’s Naṣiḥat al-moluk (as Book of Counsel for Kings) represents the apogee of his scholarly career. His translation, which is based on the Persian edition of the text (ed. J. Homāʾi, Tehran, 1972), includes an introduction, in which he contextualizes the significance of Ḡazāli’s contribution to the genre of “mirror for princes.” At the time of its publication, notwithstanding some concerns about his heavy reliance on the Persian edition, Bagley’s translation received altogether a warm welcome among scholars of Islamic studies.

Another major project undertaken by Bagley over an extended period was translation from German to English of a four-volume collection of articles on Islamic civilization and dynastic history by the German scholar Bertold Spuler and others (see Bibliography, 1981-96). Late in the 1970s, Bagley translated a narrative source by Badr al-Moluk Bāmdād (d. 1987) on reforms and campaigns for women’s rights in Iran during the first part of the 20th century. He also translated a collection of Sadeq Chubak’s short stories (1982) and ʿAli Dašti’s controversial account on the life of the Prophet Mohammad (1985).

Bagley’s contribution to Encyclopædia Iranica began in the late 1970s, when he was commissioned to prepare four entries: “Afšin b. Divdād,” founder of the semi-independent Sajid dynasty in Azerbaijan (r. 276/889–317/929), with ʿA. Kārang; “Badiha-sarāʾi,” the composition and utterance of something improvised; “Borhān-al-Din, Ḵˇāja Abu Naṣr Fatḥ-Allāh,” a vizier (d. 1358) eulogized by Ḥāfeẓ in two ḡazals; “Elgood, Cyril Lloyd” (1893-1970), British historian of medicine in Iran.

At the same time, Bagley was commissioned to translate from Persian, French, and German at least 78 medium-sized and small entries, plus several major entries which required a good deal of professional expertise and relevant knowledge. These included “Alqāb and ʿAnāwin” (titles and forms of address, with three subentries and 8,000 words), “ʿAšāyer” (tribes of Iran, in four sections and 15,000 words), “Aždaha iii. In Persian Literature” (dragon, 4,400 words), “Armenia and Iran vi. Armeno-Iranian Relations in the Islamic Period” (9,700 words), “Anahid iii. The Cult and Its Diffusion” (2,500 words), “ʿAṭṭār, Farid-al-Din” (5,500 words); and “Adab i. Adab in Iran” (8,000 words).


Publications of F. R. C. Bagley.


Arabs and the Middle East, Toronto, 1956.

Tr., Ghazālī’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Naṣīḥat al-mulūk), London: 1964.

Tr., Badr ol-Moluk Bamdad, From Darkness into Light: Women’s Emancipation in Iran, Hicksville, N.Y., 1977.

Tr., H. Scheel, B. Spuler, et al., The Muslim World: A Historical Survey, Part IV: Modern Times, Fascicule 1, Leiden, 1981.

Tr., Ṣâdeq Chubak: An Anthology, Delmar, N.Y., 1982.

Tr., Ali Dashti, Twenty-Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, London, 1985.

Tr., Bertold Spuler, The Mongol Period, History of the Muslim World, Princeton, 1994.

Tr., Bertold Spuler, The Age of the Caliphs, History of the Muslim World, Princeton, 1995.

Tr., Bertold Spuler, Hans J. Kissling, et al., The Last Great Muslim Empires, History of the Muslim World, Princeton, 1996.

Research articles, reports, and encyclopedia entries:

“Egypt under Nasser,” International Journal 11/3, 1956, pp. 193-204.

“Nasserism,” Journal of International Affairs 12/5, 1958, pp. 150-58.

“Iraq’s Revolution,” International Journal 14/4, 1959, pp. 283-95.   

“The Azhar and Shiʿism,” Muslim World 50/2, 1960, pp. 122-29.

“Omar Khayyam and Fitzgerald,” Durham University Journal 59/3, 1967, pp. 81-93. 

“Technocracy in Iran,” Der Islam 44, 1968, pp. 230-49. 

“Religion and the State in Iran,” Islamic Studies 10, 1971, pp. 1-22.

“Religion and the State in Modern Iran,” in Ve Congrès international d’arabisants et d’islamisants, Bruxelles ... 1970: Actes, Brussels, 1971, pp. 75-88.

“The Iranian Family Protection Law of 1967: A Milestone in the Advance of Women’s Rights,” in Iran and Islam, in Memory of the Late Vladimir Minorsky, ed. C. E. Bosworth, Edinburgh, pp. 47-64.

“A Bright Future after Oil: Dams and Agro-Industry in Khuzistan,” Middle East Journal 30/1, 1976, pp. 25-35.

“Some Suggestions for Future Research on Modern Shiʿism,” in Akten des VII. Kongresses für Arabistik und Islamwissenschaft, Göttingen … 1974, ed. A. Dietrich, Göttingen, 1976, pp. 59-65.

F. R. C. Bagley and M. H. Karimi, “Persia in the Writings of Montesquieu,” Durham University Journal 69/2, 1977, pp. 231-37.

“The Eighth Congress of Iranian Studies and Some Remarks about Present-Day Kerman” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Bulletin 5/2, 1978, pp. 96-100.

“New Light on the Iranian Constitutional Movement” in Qajar Iran: Political, Social and Cultural Change 1800-1925, ed. E. C. Bosworth and C. Hillenbrand, London, 1983, pp. 48-64.

Reviews of Bagley’s publications.

M. Arkoun and F. Robinson, “Review of The Last Great Muslim Empires, translations and adaptations by F. R. C. Bagley & others,” Digest of Middle East Studies 6/1, 1996, pp. 68-69.

P. Avery, “Ṣâdeq Chubak: An Anthology by F. R. C. Bagley,” BSOAS 48/2, 1985, pp. 371-73.

M. M. Badawi, “Review of Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-muluk) by F. R. C. Bagley,” Medium Aevum 35/1, 1966, pp. 157-62. 

M. C. Lyons, “Review of Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-muluk) by F. R. C. Bagley,” BSOAS 29/2, 1966, pp. 387-88.

A. Schimmel, “Review of Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-muluk) by F. R. C. Bagley,” Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 62/1,1967, pp. 50-53.

D. Sourdel, “Review of Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-muluk) by F. R. C. Bagley,” Arabica 13/1, 1966, pp. 90-92.

W. M. Watt, “Review of Ghazali’s Book of Counsel for Kings (Nasihat al-muluk) by F. R. C. Bagley,” JRAS 1-2,1965, p. 81.


“Obituary: Frank Ronald Charles Bagley 1915-1997,” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Newsletter 12/1, 1997, p. 4.


Originally Published: August 5, 2016

Last Updated: August 5, 2016

Cite this entry:

EIr., “BAGLEY, FRANK RONALD CHARLES,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at (accessed on 19 May 2016).