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Wilkins, Sir Charles

WILKINS, SIR CHARLES (17497-1836), English Orientalist, was born at Frome, Somersetshire, probably in 1749, and in 1770 he went to India as a writer in the East India Company's service. He was soon attracted to the study of Oriental languages, particularly Sanskrit, and did an important work towards facilitating such study by founding a printing press for these languages, taking a large personal share in the practical work of preparing the type. He returned to England in 1786, but continued his study of Sanskrit, and he afterwards became librarian to the East India Company, and examiner at Haileybury on the establishment of the college there in 1805. Wilkins was knighted in 1833 in recognition of his services to Oriental scholarship, and he died in London in 1836. He was a pioneer in the department of learning with which his name was associated, being the first Englishman to acquire mastery of Sanskrit, and to make a thorough study of Indian inscriptions in that script. He compiled a Sanskrit grammar and published several translations from the sacred books of the East, besides preparing a new edition of Richardson's Persian and Arabic dictionary, and a catalogue of the manuscripts collected by Sir William Jones, who acknowledged his indebtedness to Wilkins, and whom the latter assisted in founding the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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