Benjamin Jowett

Date of birth: 
15 Apr 1817
City of birth: 
Camberwell, London
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Oct 1893
Location of death: 
Hampshire, England

Benjamin Jowett was Master of Balliol College, Oxford, from 1870 to 1893. He had been Regius Professor of Greek from 1855 and was made Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1882. While Jowett was Master of Balliol, forty-nine Indians were at the university, and twenty-two of those at Balliol. Jowett had the reputation of attracting students from all over the world. He was particularly concerned with university reform and was consulted on reforms to the Indian Civil Service. Jowett saw three successive viceroys of India come through Balliol (Lansdowne, Elgin, Curzon), and many young men undertook their probationary training for the ICS at Balliol. As Vice-Chancellor, Jowett opened the Indian Institute in Oxford on 14 October 1884.

Jowett notably befriended Cornelia Sorabji, sister of Richard Sorabji who was at Balliol 1890-3. Cornelia Sorabji studed law at Somerville College, 1889-93, and was the first woman to study law at Oxford. Jowett introduced Sorabji to leading contemporary figures in politics, law, social service, and literature while she was at Oxford. 

Secondary works: 

Abbott, Evelyn and Campbell, Lewis, Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett (London: John Murray, 1897)

Brown, Judith M., Windows into the Past: Life Histories and the Historian of South Asia (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009)

Faber, G. C., Jowett: A Portrait with a Background (London: Faber, 1958)

Hinchliff, Peter, Benjamin Jowett and the Christian Religion (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987)

Hinchliff, Peter and Prest, John, ‘Jowett, Benjamin (1817–1893)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2006) []

Jones, John, Balliol College: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, 2nd edition 1997)

Quinn, Vincent and Prest, John, Dear Miss Nightingale: A Selection of Benjamin Jowett's Letters to Florence Nightingale 1860-1893 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987)

Sorabji, Cornelia, India Calling (London: Nisbet & Co., 1934)

Symonds, Richard, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? (New York: St Martins Press, 1986)

Archive source: 

Letters regarding Indians, the ICS and Sorabji, Balliol College Archives, Oxford

Mss Eur F165, letters to Cornelia Sorabji, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Mss Eur F111-112, letters to Curzon, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Other letters, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Other letters, British Library Manuscript Collection, St Pancras