Find thousands of books, manuscripts, visual materials and unpublished archives from our collections, many of them with free online access.

Vambery, Armin (1832-1913)

  • Archives and manuscripts

Where to find it

Location of original

Wellcome Library; GB.

About this work


6 notes, autograph and signed. No.17 is undated.



Physical description

6 items

Biographical note

Armin Vambery (1832-1913), Hungarian Orientalist and traveller, was born into a humble background at Duna-Szerdahely, a village on the island of Shiitt, in the Danube, in 1832. He was educated at the village school until the age of twelve, and owing to congenital lameness had to walk with crutches. At an early age he showed remarkable aptitude for acquiring languages, but lack of money meant that he had to earn his living rather than study. After being apprenticed to a tailor for a short time, he became tutor to an innkeeper's son. He next entered the untergymnasium of St Georgen, and went from here to Pressburg (Bratislava), supporting himself by teaching on a very small scale. By sixteen he had a good knowledge of Hungarian, Latin, French and German, and was rapidly acquiring English, the Scandinavian languages, Russian, Serbo-Croat and other Slav languages. At the age of twenty he had obtained sufficient knowledge of Turkish to lead him to go to Constantinople, where he set up as teacher of European languages, and shortly afterwards became a tutor in the house of Pasha Hussein Daim. Under the influence of his friend and instructor, the Mollah Ahmed Effendi, he became, nominally at least, a full Osmanli, and entering the Turkish service, was afterwards secretary to Fuad Pasha. After spending six years in Constantinople, where he published a Turkish-German Dictionary and various linguistic works, and where he acquired some twenty Oriental languages and dialects, he visited Teheran; and then, disguised as a dervish under the name Resid Effendi, joined a band of pilgrims from Mecca, and spent several months with them in rough travel through the deserts of Asia. He succeeded in maintaining his disguise, and on arriving at Khiva went safely through two audiences of the khan. Passing Bokhara, they reached Samarkand, where the emir's suspicions were aroused. The emir questioned Vambery for a full half-hour but did not penetrate his disguise; in fact, he was sufficiently pleased with "Resid Effendi" to give him some handsome presents. Vambery turned back reluctantly, travelling through Herat, where he took leave of the dervishes and returned with a caravan to Teheran:in March 1864 he reached Constantinople via Trebizond and Erzerum. By the advice of Prokesch-Osten and Eotvos, he paid a visit in the following June to London, where he was lionised for his adventures and linguistic triumphs. In the same year he published his Travels in Central Asia. Returning to Hungary, he was appointed professor of Oriental languages in the university of Budapest: there he settled down, contributing largely to periodicals, and publishing a number of books, chiefly in German and Hungarian. His travels have been translated into many languages, and his Autobiography was written in English. Amongst the best known of his works, besides Travels in Central Asia, are Wanderings and Adventures in Persia (1867); Sketches of Central Asia (1868); History of Bokhara (1873); Manners in Oriental Countries (1876); Primitive Civilization of the Turko-Tatar People (1879); Origin of the Magyars (1882); The Turkish People (1885); and Western Culture in Eastern Lands (1906).Information drawn from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica as adapted and mounted on the internet as the LoveToKnow Free Online Encyclopedia (, rewritten for contemporary style.

Terms of use

Images are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Language note

In English.

Creator/production credits

Vambery, Armin, 1832-1913.



  • English

Permanent link

We’re improving the information on this page. Find out more.