George Borrow (1803–1881) in St Petersburg and the Scriptures in Manchu

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Ian Randall


George Henry Borrow became well known in Victorian England as a novelist and travel writer. He wrote a brilliant description of the five years he spent working in Spain for the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS), The Bible in Spain (1843). It became a best-seller. This article examines Borrow’s multi-faceted work in St Petersburg — before his time in Spain — in which he was engaged in the translation of the New Testament into the Manchu language. This article also brings out Borrow’s Christian faith, an aspect which has been ignored or misrepresented in much of the literature about him. In 1911, it was reported that a bundle of letters by Borrow had been discovered — ‘a great literary treasure’. Here, his letters from St Petersburg, held in the Cambridge University Library, are used as the main primary source material to enable a picture of Borrow and his endeavours to be painted.

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Author Biography

Ian Randall

Dr Ian Randall is a Senior Research Associate of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide and an Honorary Research Fellow of the International Baptist Theological Study Centre, Amsterdam.