Kuruvila Zachariah

Other names: 

Kuruvilla Zachariah


Merton College Oxford, OX1 4JD
United Kingdom
51° 45' 4.8456" N, 1° 15' 6.03" W
Date of birth: 
21 Dec 1890
City of birth: 
Calicut, Kerala
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
30 Jun 1955
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
31 Aug 1912
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

31 August 1912 - 11 November 1915


Kuruvila Zachariah was an Indian Christian who having studied at Christian College, Madras, was sent to England in 1912 on a Government of India scholarship. Having arrived in London in September 1912, he visited Thomas Arnold, the education advisor for Indian students. He was advised that he had a place to read history at Keble College, Oxford, but upon consideration took up a place at Merton College instead.

Zachariah attended Oxford Union debates and became involved with the University Christian Union. He did not join the Oxford Majlis because they met on Sunday evenings. In 1915, Zachariah received a first-class degree in history. Zachariah applied for teaching posts in India from England, taking advice from the India Office about entry into the Indian Educational Service. He was offered a position at Presidency College, Calcutta, and so returned to India in November 1915.

Zachariah was Professor of History at Presidency College until 1930 and then Principal of Hooghly College and Principal of Islamia College following that. He then took up several advisory positions within the Government after Indian independence. In 1954, Zachariah was appointed Historical Advisor and Minister at the High Commission in London. He died in 1955. Presidency College, Calcutta, continues to hold an annual Kuruvilla Zachariah Memorial Lecture in his honour.

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Student Movement ('An Indian In England: An Impression', XXIII, October 1920)

Secondary works: 

'An Indian at Merton 1912-1915', Postmaster and the Merton Record (October 1991), pp. 85-90

Maswood, Shireen (ed.), A Greek Interlude: Kuruvila Zachariah: His Life & Writings (Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi & Co., 1992)

Merton College Register, 1900-1964 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1964)

Mukherjee, Sumita, Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (London: Routledge, 2010)

Archive source: 

Letters, Merton College Archive, Oxford