GIBB MEMORIAL SERIES (GMS), a series of publications, which has continued for almost a century, mainly, but not exclusively, dedicated to editions and translations of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish texts. The Series is financed by the Gibb Memorial Trust, which was originally set up with money left for this purpose by Mrs. Jane Gibb of Glasgow (d. 1904) in memory of her prematurely-deceased son, Elias John Wilkinson Gibb (1857-1901). Gibb was a largely self-taught scholar of Arabic, Persian, and, above all, of Ottoman Turkish. He had published in 1882 his Ottoman Poems Translated into English Verse in the Original Forms, the forerunner of the work for which he will always be remembered, the classic six-volume History of Ottoman Poetry (London, 1900-1909), only one volume of which was published in his own lifetime, with the remaining ones edited and seen through the press by his friend Edward G. Browne (q.v.).
The original trustees of Mrs. Gibb’s bequest were Mrs. Gibb herself, Browne, Guy Le Strange, Henry F. Amedroz, Alexander G. Ellis, Reynold A. Nicholson, and E. Denison Ross, with Mrs. Ida W. E. Ogilvy Gregory, E. J. W. Gibb’s widow, later replacing Mrs. Gibb. Subsequent trustees, added as the original trustees gradually died, have included such prominent scholars as Charles A. Storey, Hamilton A. R. Gibb, Reuben Levy, Arthur J. Arberry, Alfred F. L. Beeston, Harold W. Bailey, Bernard Lewis, Ann K. S. Lambton, James D. Pearson, Geoffrey L. Lewis, and Robert B. Serjeant. Messrs. E. J. Brill of Leiden and Luzac and Co. of London were at the outset publishers for the Trust, but with the start of the New Series in 1921 (see below), Luzac’s became the sole publisher, continuing as such until the late 1970s. The present publishers are Aris and Phillips of Warminster, Wilts., U.K. The earlier volumes published were handsomely printed and produced, with characteristic binding in black buckram with gold lettering on the spine. Notable care was taken from the outset for accurate transliteration of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, a practice in which British scholars had hitherto lagged behind their continental colleagues. The Arabic script for the early volumes was done in attractive fonts by printing houses at Cairo and Beirut, and then, after World War I, by printing houses in Europe, including those at Leiden, Vienna, and Cambridge.
The first volume to appear was a facsimile edition by Annette S. Beveridge of the Chaghatay Turkish Bābur-nāma (The Bábar-náma, Reproduced in Facsimile from a MS. Belonging to the Late Sir Sálár Jang of Ḥaydarábád, 1905), but since then the majority of volumes have been in the fields of Arabic and Persian. They comprise a First Series published 1905-16, with a delayed volume of the Series not appearing until 1928, forming nos. 1-25 (in fact, several of these were multi-volume works); and a New Series, beginning in 1921, nos. 1 to 29 (again, some of these were multi-volume works) as of 1986 (subsequently issued books have been unnumbered). A further series of Gibb Literary Studies has been inaugurated recently, of which two volumes on Arabic poetry have so far appeared (in 1997 and 1999).
Scholars owe to the Trust’s initiative many volumes containing what have becomes standard editions and/or translations of Persian texts (and some of the authors of Arabic works in the Series were themselves ethnically Persian or worked in the Persian lands, e.g. Samʿānī, author of the Ketāb al-ansāb, facs. ed. by D. S. Margoliouth as The Kitábu’l-Ansáb of as-Sam’ání, GMS 20, 1913); many of these works would almost certainly, for financial reasons, have never achieved publication without the Trust’s patronage.
In the field of Sufism, Nicholson published his translation of ʿAlī b. ʿOṯmān Hojvīrī’s Kašfal-maḥjūb (The Kashfu’l-Maḥjúb: The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, GMS 17, 1911), but that scholar’s monument remains his eight-volume Persian text, translation, and commentary on the Maṯnawī-e maʿnawī of Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī (The Mathnawí-i Ma’nawí of Jalálu’ddín Rúmí, Edited from the Oldest Manuscripts Available, GMS, N.S. 4, 1925-40).
In the field of history, Browne published An Abridged Translation of the History of Ṭabaristán by Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Ebn Esfandīār (GMS 2, 1905) and a facsimile edition and abridged translation of Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfī’s Tārīḵ-e gozīda (The Táríkh-i-Guzída; or, “Select History” of Hamdulláh Mustawfí-i-Qazwíní, GMS 14, 2 vols., 1911-14). Another of the original trustees, Le Strange, published the text and translation of Mostawfī’s Nozhat al-qolūb (The Geographical Part of the Nuzhat-al-Qulūb of Ḥamdu’lláh Mustawfí of Qazwín, GMS 23, ed. 1915, tr. 1918), and (along with Nicholson) the text of Ebn al-Balḵī’s Fārs-nāma (The Fársnáma of Ibnu’l-Balkhí, GMS, N.S. 1, 1921). The Saljuq and Mongol periods have been especially well served, with Muḥammad Iqbál’s edition of Moḥammad b. ʿAlī Rāvandī’s Rāḥat al-ṣodūr (The Ráḥat- uṣ-Ṣudúr wa Áyat-us-Surúr, Being a History of the Saljúqs, GMS, N.S. 2, 1921); Mírzá Muḥammad Qazwíní (Moḥammad Qazvīnī)’s edition of ʿAṭā-Malek Jovaynī’s Tārīḵ-e jahāngošā (The Ta’ríkh-i-Jahán-gushá of ‘Alá’u’Dín ‘Aṭá Malik-i-Juwayní, GMS 16, 3 vols., 1913-37); and Karl Jahn’s edition of the section of Rašīd-al-Dīn’s Jāmeʿ al-tawārīḵ on the reign of Ḡāzān Khan (Geschichte Ġāzān-Ḫān’s aus dem Ta’ rīḫ-i-mubārak-i-ġāzānī des Rašīd al-Dīn Faḍlallāh b. ‘Imād al-Daula Abūl-Ḫair, GMS, N.S. 14, 1940). For the more recent period, Vladimir Minorsky made available a facsimile edition of the Taḏkerat al-molūk with extensive commentary (Tadhkirat al-Mulūk: A Manual of Ṣafavid Administration, GMS, N.S. 16, 1943), and Browne an edition of Mīrzā Jānī’s history of the Bāb (q.v.), Noqṭat al-Kāf (Kitáb-iNuqṭatu’l-Káf, Being the Earliest History of the Bábís, GMS 15, 1911). As well as its concern with texts and translations, the Trust published a certain number of original monographs. Thus it made available for Western readers an English translation of Vasiliĭ V. Barthold’s magisterial Turkestan v epokhu mongol’skogo nashestviya (Turkestan down to the Mongol Invasion, GMS, N.S. 5, 1928, new edition in 1968). Hardly of less significance are works in the field of historical geography, including as they do Hyacinth Louis Rabino’s Mázandarán and Astarábád (GMS, N.S. 7, 1928) and Minorsky’s translation of the anonymous Ḥodūd al-ʿālam, with its commentary of stupendous erudition (Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam, “The Regions of the World”: A Persian Geography 372 A.H.-982 A.D., GMS, N.S. 11, 1937, 2nd edition, 1970).
Adab and literature have been represented by Qazvīnī and Browne’s edition and translation of Neẓāmī ʿArūżī’s Čahār maqāla (The Chahár Maqála of Nidhámí-i-Arúḍí-i-Samarqandí, GMS 11, ed., 1910, tr., 1921); Qazvīnī’s editions of Šams-e Qays’ al-Moʿjam fī maʿāyīr ašʿār al-ʿajam (The Mu’jam fí Ma’áyíri Ash’ári’l’Ajam: A Treatise on the Prosody and Poetic Art of the Persians, GMS 10, 1909) and the Marzbān-nāma (The Marzubán-náma of Sa’du’d-Dín-i-Waráwiní, GMS 8, 1909); Muhammad Niz áámuʾd-Dín’s listing and analysis of the contents of ʿAwfī’s Jawāmeʿ al-ḥekāyat (Introduction to the Jawámi’u’l-hikáyát wa lawámi’u’rriwáyát of Sadídu’d-Dín Muhammad al-’Awfí, GMS, N.S. 8, 1929); and Levy’s edition of Kay Kāvūs’s Qābūs-nāma (Nasihat-nama, Known as Qabus-nama, GMS, N.S. 18, 1951).
The conditions of the last few years have meant that the Trust has not been able to maintain the intense momentum of publication characteristic of the first decades of its existence, but recent publications in the Persian sphere have included John F. Richard’s Document Forms of Orders of Official Appointment in the Mughal Empire (GMS, N.S. 29, Cambridge, 1986) and Alexander H. Morton’s edition and translation of the travels of Michel Membré, Mission to the Lord Sophy of Persia (1539-1542) (1993); also, the Trust has been able to reprint, often in paperback form, several of the past works of the Series and thus keep them available for scholars.
E. G. Browne, “Gibb, Elias John Wilkinson,” in Dictionary of National Biography, Supplement 1901-1910, London, 1920, pp. 100-101.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: December 15, 2001
Last Updated: February 9, 2012
This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 6, pp. 601-602