BOYLE, JOHN ANDREW (1916-78), British orientalist. He was born at Worcester Park, Surrey, England, on 10 March 1916. His father was a versatile bibliophile and translator, who became Bolivian consul in Birmingham. Boyle himself graduated with First Class Honors in German at Birmingham University and subsequently studied oriental languages at Göttingen and Berlin. During the Second World War, after a short period in the Royal Engineers, he was assigned to the Foreign Office, where he remained until 1950. In that year he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Persian at Manchester University, becoming successively reader (1959) and professor of Persian studies (1966). He died in Manchester on 19 November 1978.
Boyle, who produced a short Persian dictionary and a grammar of modern Persian (Wiesbaden, 1966), will perhaps be best remembered for his work on the Mongol period of Iranian history and especially for his annotated translation of the florid Tārīḵ-e jahāngošā of Jovaynī (The History of the World Conqueror, 2 vols., Manchester, 1958), an extension of the doctoral thesis he had completed in 1947 under the supervision of Vladimir Minorsky. His further contributions in this field included a translation of part of Rašīd-al-Dīn’s Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ (The Successors of Genghis Khan, 1971) and numerous articles later to be collected in one volume in the Variorum Reprints series (The Mongol World Empire, 1206-1370, London, 1977). He was a member of the editorial board of the Cambridge History of Iran and edited volume V, The Saljuq and Mongol Periods (1968), to which he himself contributed a chapter on the Il-khans which is a model of clarity. His last published book was a translation of the Elāhī-nāma of ʿAṭṭār (Manchester, 1977).
His services to Persian studies were recognized as early as 1958, when he became the only European ever to receive the Iranian order of Sepās (1st class). But his researches were by no means confined to Iran, and in his later years his wide-ranging linguistic attainments, which embraced Armenian and even Celtic languages, enabled him to indulge a growing interest in folklore, an area in which he published a number of valuable articles.
Bibliography: Given in the text.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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Vol. IV, Fasc. 4, pp. 420-421