Mainly concerned with the history of the early Indo-Iranian languages and their literatures, Sir Harold Bailey’s Library was built up over many years. Altogether his library consists of over 12,000 books in addition to more than 500 boxes of correspondance and archives.
Primarily a philologist, Professor Bailey’s collection covers the whole of the Indo-European language family. On the Indian side there is extensive material relating to Vedic, the language of the Vedas, Late Vedic and Classical Sanskrit, as well as the Prakrit languages, including Pali, the language of the early Buddhist scriptures. Another special interest was the spread of Buddhism and the translation of Buddhist texts into Chinese, Japanese, the Southeast Asian languages, Tibetan, Mongol, Korean and Turkish.
Although formally Professor of Sanskrit at Cambridge, Sir Harold’s major contributions to scholarship lay in the field of Iranian studies. His collection includes works on Avestan and Pahlavi, the languages of the sacred texts of the Zoroastrians, and on the Middle Iranian languages Khotanese and Sogdian from Central Asia.
The Bailey Library also includes books on the Caucasian languages including Georgian, Armenian and Ossetic, a substantial number of books on Classical Greek and Latin languages and civilization and a short section devoted to books on Hebrew and the ancient Mesopotamian languages. There is a section on the history of script and writing systems, as well as reference books on general linguistics, together with a small number of books dealing with the remaining Indo-European languages and their literatures, including Baltic, Celtic and Hittite.
A biography of Professor Sir Harold Bailey, written by Ronald Eric Emmerick, published in the Proceedings of the British Academy, 101. pp309-349, 1999 and reproduced here with the kind permission of the British Academy.