Ralph Russell
Welcome to the website of Ralph Russell

Ralph Russell (1918 – 2008) was the leading western scholar of Urdu of his generation.

This website introduces you to his writings on Urdu and Islam in South Asia, and to his autobiography.

He died on 14th September 2008 at the age of 90. Tributes have been received from people across India, Pakistan, the UK and the US – from scholars, former students, and many others whose lives he affected in more diffuse ways. In the words of a former colleague, ‘Ralph was a remarkable scholar but an even more remarkable human being. His powerful sense of the brotherhood of humankind, and his service of humankind in his own life, is an example which has influenced my life as I am sure it has influenced those of many others.’

Sharing a love for Urdu
Ralph’s enthusiasm for sharing his love of Urdu was proverbial. He was teaching and writing up to a few weeks before his death, and he wrote always in a way that he hoped would make Urdu and its literature accessible to as wide a range of people as possible. He saw this website as a tool for reaching people he would never meet.

Why write autobiography?
Ralph also had a strong conviction that people should write about their own lives, and share as honestly as they could their responses to what they had experienced. He practised this himself throughout his life and encouraged many others to do the same, generously giving time to editing or translating what they had written, and finding ways to get it published. In the last decade of his life he gave priority to writing his own autobiography. He did not complete the final volume but left drafts with guidance for editing, so that it could be completed after his death.

Updating the website
Ralph was working on this website in the last years of his life and entrusted to me, as his editor, the task of completing it. The text which he wrote will stand, and it will be clear which sections have been added since. I will include a section with comments from others which give a sense of the extent of his influence. If you would like to contribute yours, please send it. (click here for contact details)

Marion Molteno

(website last updated, November 2008)

Books by Ralph Russell

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