child marriage

Max Muller


Friedrich Max Müller was a Sanskritist at the University of Oxford in the late nineteenth century. Having spent some time in Paris, Müller travelled to London in 1846 for a short research trip. In 1848, he decided to settle in Oxford having had his edition of Rig Veda printed by the University Press. He became a naturalized British citizen in 1855.

From 1851, Müller held various positions in the University of Oxford. In 1860, he competed against Monier Monier-Williams for the position of Boden Professor of Sanskrit. Although Müller's body of scholarship exceeded Monier-Williams', the issue of Müller's Liberal Lutheranism and German ethnicity came to the fore in the campaign and he was defeated by Monier-Williams. Despite the huge disappointment, Müller continued to pursue his studies in Sanskrit and the Vedas, and was widely known and respected in India.

Müller delivered a number of lectures, and wrote many essays and books on Indian religion and spirituality. He cultivated a number of friendships with Indians through correspondence and their visits to Oxford. In particular, he became very close to Keshub Chunder Sen and interested in the Brahmo Samaj - which Müller saw as the natural sect of Christianity. He was also extremely concerned about the practice of child marriage in India, a concern he shared with Behramji Malabari and Pandita Ramabai, who both visited him in Oxford. Müller felt compelled to comment upon the case of the the child-bride, Rukhmabai, by sending a letter to The Times in 1887.

Published works: 

The Languages of the Seat of War in the East: With a Survey of the Three Families of Language, Semitic, Arian and Turanian (London: Williams and Norgate, 1855)

A History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature: So Far as it Illustrates the Primitive Religion of the Brahmans (London: Williams and Norgate, 1859)

Chips from a German Workshop (London: Longmans, 1867)

The Science of Thought (London: Longmans, 1887)

Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas (London: Longmans, 1888)

Buddhist Mahâyâna Texts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1894)

Collected Works, 18 volumes (London: Longmans, 1898)

(trans. and ed.) The Sacred Books of the East, 51 volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879-1910)

My Autobiography: A Fragment (London: Longmans, 1901)

Date of birth: 
06 Dec 1823
Contributions to periodicals: 


Nineteenth Century

Various letters to the editor in The Times, including 24 November 1880, 22 August 1887, 6 September 1887

Secondary works: 

Bosch, Lourens van den, Friedrich Max Müller: A Life Devoted to Humanities (Leiden: Brill, 2002)

Chaudhuri, Nirad C., Scholar Extraordinary: The Life of Professor the Rt Hon. Friedrich Max Muller (London: Chatto & Windus, 1974)

Fynes, R. C. C., 'Müller, Friedrich Max (1823–1900)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007) []

Müller, Georgina (ed.), The Life and Letters of the Right Honourable Friedrich Max Müller (London: Longmans, 1902)

Stone, Jon R. (ed.), The Essential Max Müller (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)

Archive source: 

Letters, notebooks and family papers, Bodleian Archives, Oxford

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Max Müller, Max Mueller

Friedrich Max Muller

Date of death: 
28 Sep 1900
Location of death: 
Oxford, England

7 Norham Gardens, Oxford



Born in 1864, Rukhmabai was married at 11 years to Dadaji Bhikaji, then aged nineteen. When her in-laws insisted that she move into the marital home some years later, Rukhmabai refused and the case was brought to court. The case came to the attention of the British press as the issue of child marriage and the rights of women were brought to the fore. Although the case went in Rukhmabai's favour, an appeal went in Dadaji's favour.

A fund was raised for Rukhmabai to travel to England to study medicine. In 1889, she arrived in England. She enrolled in the London School of Medicine and qualified as a doctor in 1894 (having also studied at the Royal Free Hospital). She then returned to India and worked as the Medical Officer for Women in Surat for twenty two years and then in Rajkot for twelve years.

Published works: 

'Indian Child Marriage (an Appeal to the British Government)', New Review, 16 (Sept. 1890), pp. 263-9

'Purdah - the Need for its Abolition', in Mithan Choksi and Evelyn Gedge (eds) Women in Modern India (Fifteen Papers by Indian Women Writers) (Bombay: D. B. Taraporewala & Co., 1929)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1864

Harvey Carlisle (wrote to The Times with Rukhmabai's letter in 1887), B. M. Malabari, Louisa Martindale (classmate at London School of Medicine), Sir Monier Williams (wrote to the press in relation to her case), Dr Edith Pechey Phipson (championed Rukhmabai in Bombay and helped raise funds for her to study in UK), Eve McLaren, Pandita Ramabai, Cornelia Sorabji.

Contributions to periodicals: 

'Letter to editor', The Times (9 April 1887)

Notice', The Times (15 May 1894)

Precise DOB unknown: 
Secondary works: 

Burton, Antoinette, 'From Child Bride to "Hindoo Lady": Rukhmabai and the Debate on Sexual Respectability in Imperial Britain', The American Historical Review 103.4 (October 1998), pp. 1119-46

Chandra, Sudhir, Enslaved Daughters: Colonialism, Law and Women's Rights (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998)

Forbes, Geraldine, Women in Modern India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

de Souza, Eunice and Pereira, Lindsay (eds), Women's Voices: Selections from Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Indian Writing in English (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

The Times, 1887

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Other names: 



London School of Medicine for Women NW3 2QG
United Kingdom
51° 33' 48.6144" N, 0° 11' 2.2236" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1955
Precise date of death unknown: 
Location of death: 
Bombay, India
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


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