STOREY, Charles Ambrose


STOREY, Charles Ambrose, British orientalist, author of the bio-bibliographical survey of Persian literature (b. Blackhill, Durham, England, 21 August 1888, d. Hove, England, 24 April 1968). Storey was educated at Rossall School (Lancashire) and then at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied Classics and Oriental languages (especially Arabic under A. A. Bevan) and became primarily an Arabist; he graduated in 1912. In 1914, he was appointed Professor of Arabic at the Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College (now the Muslim University) of Aligarh, India. He left India in 1919, when he was appointed Assistant Librarian to the India Office. Eight years later he became Librarian, but he left India Office in 1933, having been elected Sir Thomas Adams Professor of Arabic at Cambridge University. He retired in 1947 and lived in Hove until his death.

At the beginning of his scholarly career, he published a text edition of Mofażżal b. Salama’s al-Fāḵer, a 9th-century Arabic treatise on the popular proverbs and colloquial expressions of the Arabs (see Storey 1915; repr. Cairo 1982). This edition was very favorably reviewed (see Krachkovskiĭ). During his service at the India Office library, he published a continuation of the catalogue of Arabic manuscripts in this library (vol. II, pt. 1, “Qurʾānic Literature,” see Storey, 1930; vol. I had been published by O. Loth in 1877, and pts. 2-4 of vol. II were later published by other authors). Probably, it was in connection with this publication that Storey began at the same time his work on Persian literature (fasc. 1 of vol. 1, devoted to Qurʾanic literature, was published in 1927), and from then on it was to this work that Storey devoted his entire life; besides it, only a few minor articles and reviews were published by him until his death (see bibliography).

Storey’s Persian Literature: A Bio-bibliographical Survey (henceforth referred to as Survey) includes both printed works and works that exist only in manuscripts (a great majority belong to the latter category). It was envisioned by Storey as a counterpart to Carl Brockelmann's Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (he says so explicitly in the preface to fasc. 1 of vol. I). But there were important differences between his work and that of Brockelmann. While Brockelmann wanted his book to be a history of Arabic literature in the broad sense, Storey’s book is essentially a reference work. Accordingly, Storey’s classification is based not on chronology, by periods, as with Brockelmann, but on the types of literature. Thus, the works by the same author are not grouped together under his name, but can belong to different sections of the book, in accordance with their genre and subjects (with appropriate cross-references). Storey’s book has also other important advantages: it includes valuable biographical data about authors, and often about persons connected with them (with references to the sources), relatively detailed description of the contents of works, complete lists of all known manuscripts with the dates of transcriptions and notations of their defects, and full bibliographical data on editions, translations, and studies of each work. Another outstanding feature of Storey’s work is the thoroughness with which it was prepared and printed, making it both an indispensable and generally reliable source of information. As Vladimir Minorsky wrote in his review (1935, p. 256), “The work has been so carefully done and such a mass of catalogues has been utilized that only longer use of the book may bring to evidence some occasional lacunae.”

However, the reliability of such a reference work depends on the reliability of its sources, and Storey’s sources were, necessarily, of very uneven quality. These sources were (1) Persian works themselves, (2) catalogs of Persian manuscripts, (3) scholarly works examining particular works or groups of works (whether devoted to such an examination specifically or analyzing them in connection with certain research topics), (4) bibliographies of Persian printed and lithographed books, (5) biographical dictionaries that include information on Persian writers and their works. The ideal basis for such a survey would be, primarily, material derived from the direct study of the texts themselves—a task, which would be impossible even as a lifetime work of a large group of scholars. Storey himself was able to study only a small proportion of the actual manuscripts, mostly in the library of the India Office. As to the printed works, he relied, besides the same library, mostly on his own collection, and it was not sufficient, especially for the works published in Russia and, to some extent, in Iran. Catalogs of Persian manuscripts were used by Storey most thoroughly (he utilized 154 catalogs, hand-lists and summaries, besides the works devoted to individual manuscripts or to manuscripts of individual works—a great majority of them in Western Europe, India, and Turkey, and only an insignificant number in Iran). The problem with these catalogs is their uneven quality: they vary from the catalogues raisonnés as compiled in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries to simple alphabetical or other lists of inventory type. Both the amount of information and the scholarly level of these publications are highly variable. In the last quarter of the 20th century, many new catalogs of manuscripts were published in Iran, and some of them are of good quality; but many of them have poor annotations and tend to ignore studies by Western scholars.

Another source of Storey’s survey were the catalogues of lithographed and printed Persian books in major libraries; the most important of them for Storey was the British Museum catalogue of Persian books published in 1922 by Edward Edwards. Published books were included in the general catalogs of several Iranian, Turkish, and Indian libraries, but their lists were usually not annotated. For publications that appeared in India from 1867 to 1947 Storey used The Quarterly Catalogue, which lists publications of all the provinces of India and Burma.

For the biographies of the authors, Storey used more than 50 biographical works (dictionaries, biographies of poets [taḏkeras], and others); at least half of them are in Persian, most of the rest in Arabic, and several in Urdu. In addition, he widely utilized the information on the authors and various personalities connected with them found in scholarly publications, but he often extracted such information through his own study of the works that he described. He could only partially utilize the Āgā Bozorg Tehrāni’s al-Ḏariʿaelā taṣānif al-šiʿa, which, as he wrote, he ordered from booksellers in 1943, but received only in 1951 (see Storey, I, pt. 2, p. liii; a clear admission that he relied primarily on the books in his own library).

Given the uneven quality of the sources of the Survey, some shortcomings of his work that mostly did not depend on him were inevitable; other defects, however, were the result of his own approach to the material. The most important one among the latter may seem to be the exclusion of the works that are mentioned in the extant texts, but have not survived themselves (this is the major difference between the Storey’s work and that of Brockelmann). However, in order to do this more or less systematically, one has to study directly most of the texts included in the Survey, which was, of course, an impossible task. Storey was inconsistent in his treatment of the works of modern authors: on one occasion (see Storey, I, pt. 2, p. 1291, n. 1) he wrote that “the publications of contemporary Persian historians [...] scarcely fall within the scope of the present work,” and in some sections of the Survey the more recent works in Persian are indeed excluded, although not systematically (as in the parts dealing with history), while in other sections (as Geography and Biography) they are represented more; generally, there seems to be no uniform chronological upper limit. Not all the relevant literature was taken into account for the descriptions of individual works and the biographies of authors. Some matters were not fully developed, such as the biographies of certain authors, or the content of some works; sometimes, entire aspects of historiography (compare, for instance, the excellent section on the histories of India, which Storey himself knew especially well, and the section on the histories of Central Asia, for which Storey had to rely on Russian literature often inaccessible to him). Occasional inaccuracies and mistakes in classification constitute another defect: incorrect determination of genre or content of a work and its consequent misplacement in the Survey; but such mistakes usually go back to Storey’s sources.

Storey himself was well aware of the deficiencies of his work; he was urged by his publisher (Luzac) to publish further parts, but already several years before his death he concluded that he was unable to continue it due to “old age and diminishing vigour” and to psychological changes in his attitude to the work (so in his letter to Minorsky of 1 July 1963; see Borshchevskiĭ and Bregel, p. 171, n. 2) as well as because of the great amount of new material to be included. He even contemplated the possibility of reproducing some parts from his manuscripts that he would be able “to get ready without troubling to remove its deficiencies” (ibid.), but this idea also could not materialize. Storey (who was a bachelor) left all his estate to the Royal Asiatic Society, including his house, his library, and the unpublished portions of the Survey, in files and boxes of index cards.

The sections of his book published (by Luzac and Co.) before his death included: Vol. I: Qurʾānic Literature; History and Biography [pt. 1, Qurʾānic Literature; History]. Sec. I: Qurʾānic Literature, London, 1927 [pp. 1-60]. Sec. II: [History], fasc. 1. A. General History. B. The Prophets and Early Islam, London, 1935 [pp. 61-236]; fasc. 2. C-L. Special Histories of Persia, Central Asia and the remaining parts of the world except India, London, 1936 [pp. 237-432]; fasc. 3. History of India, London, 1939 [pp. 433-780]. Pt. 2. Biography. Additions and corrections. Indexes, London, 1953 [pp. 781-1444]. Vol. II, pt. 1. A. Mathematics. B. Weights and Measures. C. Astronomy and Astrology. D. Geography, London, 1958 [pp. 1-192]. Several more parts were published on behalf of the Royal Asiatic Society posthumously, in 1977-90, from Storey’s papers without any significant updating or correction (so according to information provided by François de Blois): Vol. II, pt. 2. E. Medicine (prepared for publication by Ann Walsh and J. D. Pearson), London: Luzac and Co., 1971 [pp. III-IV, 193-346]. Vol. II, pt. 3. F. Encyclopaedias and Miscellanies; G. Arts and Crafts; H. Science; J. Occult Arts (prepared for publication by Ann Walsh, with the assistance of G. M. Meredith-Owens), Leiden: Brill, 1977 [pp. III, 347-499]. Vol. III, pt. 1. A. Lexicography. B. Grammar. C. Prosody and Poetics (prepared for publication by V. M. Shepherd, with the assistance of S. Digby, R. Pankhurst, A. K. Irvine, and T. Gandjei), Leiden: Brill, 1984 [pp. VI, 1-206]. Vol. III, pt. 2. D. Rhetoric, Riddles and Chronograms. E. Ornate prose (preparers not indicated), Oxford: Lavis Marketing, 1990 [pp. 207-407]. An unpublished manuscript for vol. III, pt. 3 and vol. IV has remained in the possession of the Royal Asiatic Society, and their publication has been delayed indefinitely because of lack of funds.

A continuation of this work, but on a different basis, began to be published in 1992. The material that has been published so far has formed vol. V (Poetry of the pre-Mongol period) and is entitled Persian Literature: A Bio-Bibliographical Survey. Begun by the Late C. A. Storey. It was compiled for the Royal Asiatic Society by François de Blois as an essentially new work, with a very limited use of Storey’s material. It was originally published in three fascicles (V/1: 1992; V/2: 1994; V/3: 1997), and the second, hardbound, edition of the entire volume, substantially revised and corrected, appeared in 2004. The work on this volume was financed by the Royal Asiatic Society out of the funds bequeathed to it by Storey (see the preface to vol. V/1), on a condition that the typescript of the first fascicle be completed in two years, which compelled De Blois to have it compiled exclusively on the basis of material available in London. Vol. VI was to be devoted to Persian poetry from the time of Saʿdi and Rumi onward, but the work on it had never begun before the Royal Asiatic Society discontinued its funding; De Blois moved to Germany, where he started working in an entirely different project, so that the section of the Survey devoted to poetry has remained unfinished.

Already much earlier a different approach to the Survey had been used in its Russian translation, which began to be prepared by the present author, with some assistance of Yu. E. Borshchevskii, in 1968, about the time of Storey’s death. The original intention was just to do a plain translation of the English original in order to make it more accessible to Russian readers. However, it soon became clear that it would be a mistake to publish such a book as a reference work while it was already seriously outdated. Consequently, the Russian edition, Persidskaya literatura (Persian literature; now usually referred to as Storey-Bregel), published in 1974 became a new, substantially revised and enlarged, version of the Survey. For this revision (which corresponds to vol. I, pt. 1, sec. I, and sec. II, fasc. 1-2 of the Survey) 103 new catalogs and hand-lists of manuscripts had been used that had not been available by Storey. Also used in one way or the other were new bibliographies and bio-bibliographies (such as two works by Mošār, Fehrest, and Moʾallefin), new publications of Persian works included by Storey and new editions of the works already included by him, as well as all new scholarly publications concerning the described Persian works. As a result, about 850 Persian works, and not less than 5000 additional manuscripts not mentioned in the original Survey were added, and the total volume of the new material surpassed that of the original text.

The original intention of Bregel and Borshchevskiĭ was to prepare a similarly revised Russian edition of the entire first volume of the Survey (Borshchevskiĭ was supposed to continue the translation and revision beginning with the histories of India). This plan could not be carried out, and by the time that the existing Russian edition was prepared for publication both authors put forward a plan of the preparation of a new, comprehensive bio-bibliographical survey of Persian literature based on an international cooperation (see Borshchevskiĭ and Bregel, 1970; the same in an expanded version: Borshchevsky and Bregel, 1972). This plan met with only verbal approval of a number of scholars, and no practical steps have ever been made. A year earlier, in August-September 1966, the First International Congress of Iranologists in Tehran confirmed the need of a continuation of Storey’s work (see Rāhnamā-ye ketāb, 9/3, 1966, p. 249), but again nothing concrete was done. A partial Persian translation of Bregel’s edition (only vol. I, including Qurʾānic Literature and General Histories) made by Yaḥyā Āryanpur, Sirus Izadi and Karim Kešāvarz and edited by Aḥmad Monzavi) was published in Tehran in 1983; it includes some valuable notes with additions and corrections based on Iranian materials (for a review see Anṣāri). A Persian translation of the second volume of the Russian edition is also being planned.

Thus, the task of the compilation of a comprehensive survey of Persian literature, whether as outlined by Borshchevskiĭ and Bregel or according to any other guidelines, is still waiting for scholars willing to devote to it their time and effort (and institutions willing to sponsor it).



Obituaries. G. M. Meredith-Owens in JRAS, 1967, p. 182; I. Afšār in Rāhnamā-ye ketāb 10/3, 1967, pp. 320-2; R. B. Serjeant in Islamic Culture 43/1, 1969, pp. i-ii.

Editions of Storey’s Persian Literature: see in the body of the text. See also Yu. E. Borshchevskiĭ and Yu. E. Bregel, “O sozdanii bio-bibliograficheskogo svoda istorii persidsko-tadzhikskoĭ literatury” (About the creation of a bio-bibliographical survey of the history of Persian-Tajik literature), in Narody Azii i Afriki, 1970, no. 3, pp. 104-19.

Yu. E. Borshchevsky and Yu. E. Bregel, “The Preparation of a Bio-bibliographical Survey of Persian Literature,” IJMES 3, 1972, pp. 169-86; F. de Blois, “C. A. Storey’s Persian Literature: an Interim Report,” JRAS 1990, pp. 370-75.


(a) Russian: Ch. A. Stori [Storey], Persidskaya literatura: Bio-bibliogragicheskiĭ obzor. V trekh chastyakh. Perevel s angliĭskogo, pererabotal i dopolnil Yu. E. Bregel’, pt. I: Koranicheskaya literatura; Vseobshchaya istoriya; Istoriya prorokov i ranniĭ islam [pp. 1-693]; pt. II: Istoriya Irana, Kurdistana, Sredneĭ Azii, Afganistana, Turtsii, Kavkaza, arabskikh stran, Evropy i Ameriki, Kitaya i Yaponii [pp. 697-1314]; pt. III: Ukazateli; Addenda [pp. 1315-1884], Moscow, 1972.

(b) Persian (from Russian): Adabiyāt-e fārsi bar mabnā-ye taʾlif-e Isturi tarjoma-ye Yu. Bregel; motarjemān: Yaḥyā Āryanpur, Sirus Izadi, Karim Kešāvarz; taḥrir: Aḥmad Monzavi; baḵš-e I: Negāštahā dar bāra-ye Qorʾān [pp. 1-423]; baḵš-e II: Negāštahā dar bāra-ye tāriḵ [pp. 425-1041], Tehran, 1983.


(a)Original English edition: H. Ritter, OLZ 1928, no. 12, cols. 1121-27; J. Horovitz, ZDMG 83, 1929, pp. 183-84; V. Minorsky, BSOS 8/1, 1935, pp. 255-57; BSOS 9/1, 1937, pp. 253-55; BSOS 10/2, 1940, pp. 539-41; R. Lescot, Bulletin d’études orientales de l’Institut Français de Damas 7-8, 1937-38, pp. 281-83; W. Hinz, ZDMG 91, 1937, pp. 756-58; J. Rypka, Archiv orientální, 10/1-2, 1938, pp. 358-59; G. Morgenstierne, Acta orientalia 17/3, 1938, pp. 238-39; C. N. Seddon, JRAS, 1938, pp. 568-69; H. Ritter, Oriens 8/1, 1955, pp. 142-45. I. Afšār, Rāhnamā-ye ketāb 1/2, 1958, pp. 186-87; R. N. Frye, JAOS 75/3, 1955, p. 198.

(b)Russian edition: I. Afšār, Rāhnamā-ye ketāb 16/4-6, 1973, pp. 212-13; J. Aubin, Stud. Ir. 2/2, 1973, pp. 284-85; J. D. Pearson, JRAS, 1975, pp. 68-69; J. W. Clinton, JAOS 97/2, 1977, pp. 212-14.

(c) Persian translation: N. Anṣāri, Našr-e dāneš 4/4, 1984, pp. 38-43.

Other works by Storey: The Fakhir of al-Mufaddal ibn Salama, edited from Manuscripts at Constantinople and Cambridge, Leiden, 1915 [reviewed by I. Yu. Krachkovskiĭ, Izbrannye sochineniya II, Moscow and Leningrad, 1956, pp. 191-96]; repr. Cairo, 1982; “On the Interpretation of Some Passages in al-Thaʿalibi’s Aḥsan ma samiʿtu,” BSOS 2, 1921, pp. 75-84; “Budāon, Badāūn, or Badāyun?” JRAS, 1926, pp. 103-04.

“Lexicographical Jottings,” in A Volume of Oriental Studies Presented to Edward G. Browne, Cambridge, England, 1922, pp. 445-56.

Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts in the Library of the India Office [...], II, pt. 1. “Qurʾanic Literature,” London, 1930.

“The Beginning of Persian Printing in India,” in Oriental Studies in Honour of Cursetji Erachji Pavry, London, 1933, pp. 457-61.

“ʿAbd al-Qadir Badaʾūni and the Katha-Saritsāgara,” in Mohammad Shafi, ed., Woolner Commemoration Volume inMemory of the Late Dr. A.C. Woolne, Lahore, 1940, pp. 249-50. “A Bāz-Nāmah and a Faras-Nāmah,” JRAS, 1960, pp. 59-60.

June 8, 2005

(Yuri Bregel)

Originally Published: July 20, 2005

Last Updated: July 20, 2005