Edward Heron-Allen

Edward Heron-Allen
Born Edward Heron Allen
(not hyphenated)
(1861-12-17)17 December 1861
London, England, United Kingdom
Died 28 March 1943(1943-03-28) (aged 81)
Large Acres, Selsey, West Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Pen name Christopher Blayre
Occupation Lawyer, Scholar, Scientist
Language English
Nationality British
Citizenship British

Elstree School

Harrow School
Genre Persian Literature, Horror, Zoology, Local History, Foraminifera, Music
Subject Various
Notable works Violin-Making as it Was and Is, Manual of Cheirosophy, The Science of the Hand , Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, The Lament of Baba Tahir, Edward Heron-Allen's Journal of the Great War

Marianna (Died 1902)

Edith Emily
Children two daughters

Edward Heron-Allen FRS[1] (born Edward Heron Allen) (17 December 1861 – 28 March 1943) was an English polymath, writer, scientist and Persian scholar who translated the works of Omar Khayyam.


Edward Heron-Allen c.1918.

Heron-Allen was born in London, the youngest of four children of George Allen and Catherine Herring. He was educated at Elstree and Harrow School from 1876, where he developed an interest in classics, science and music (particularly in violin playing), however he did not attend university.[2] In 1879 he joined the family firm of Allen and Son, solicitors, in Soho, London.[2] The practice office was located close to the violin making district and Heron-Allen made the acquaintance of Georges Chanot III, a distinguished violin maker, and learnt how to make violins making some himself.[2] He subsequently produced a book on violin making that was still in print over a hundred years later.[3]

In 1885 he studied the Turkish language with Garabet Hagopian, the Armenian envoy in London. In addition to Hagopian, Heron-Allen sought the guidance of Charles Wells, a Turkish lexicographer.[4]

He was an expert on the art of chiromancy or palmistry, having read palms and analysed the handwriting of luminaries of the period, he wrote several books on the subject and in 1886 went on a lecture tour of the United States.[2][5]

On his return from the USA he returned to his legal practice in London, but found time to develop his other interests, including the study of Persian.[2] He made friends with Mirza Malkom Khan (Nāẓem-al-Molk), the famous Persian Minister in London and in 1896 he studied colloquial Persian with Mirza ʿAlinaqi of the Persian Legation.[4] In 1897 he began studying with Edward Denison Ross, Professor of Persian at University College, London.[4] He published a literal translation of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam(1898) from the then earliest manuscript in the Bodleian Library, followed by other studies of various versions up to 1908.[2] He also published a translation entitled The Lament of Baba Tahir (1901) from a little-known Persian dialect, Luri.[2]

When Heron-Allen's father died in 1911, Heron-Allen retired from practising the law and permanently moved to Selsey in West Sussex.[2] There he produced a book on the history and prehistory of Selsey.[6] He compiled a library of 12,000 books, including a collection of rare books on the violin, which he bequeathed to the Royal School of Music.[2]

A supporter of his local parish church in Selsey, he donated a Church organ to them. It was built and supplied by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd in 1912, and dedicated to the memory of Heron-Allen's late father.[7]

Heron-Allen also served in World War I and his journal was eventually published in 2002.[8]

He joined the staff of the Directorate of Military Intelligence MI7b at the War Office in May 1918, where he dealt specifically with aerial propaganda.[4]

He spent many years studying foraminifera, for this work he was eventually elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May, 1919."[9]

Heron-Allen’s foraminiferal collections and associated library were bequeathed to the Natural History Museum, London and are now housed in a special room on the second floor of the Department of Palaeontology named The Heron-Allen Library, in his honour.[10] The collection is not just of Heron-Allens books, but also contains the reprints and manuscripts along with the ephemera which Heron-Allen bound with them, including the associated correspondence, photographs, field-notes, the various proof stages, miscellaneous invoices, artwork, as well as postcards and letters from recipients of his reprints.[10][11]

Heron-Allen also wrote on archaeology, Buddhist philosophy, the cultivation, gourmet appreciation of and culture of the asparagus, as well as a number of novels and short stories of science fiction and horror written under his pseudonym of "Christopher Blayre.[2]

Titles and accolades

Following list taken from Who, Was Who.[12]


Following list taken from Who, Was Who.[12]

Select bibliography


  1. Gregory, R. A. (1943). "Edward Heron-Allen. 1861-1943". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 4 (12): 446–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1943.0015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Brian W. Harvey, ‘Allen, Edward Heron- (1861–1943)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 3 Jan 2011
  3. Heron-Allen, Violin-Making: A Historical and Practical Guide. Dover Publications, 2005. ISBN 0-486-44356-6.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Encyclopædia Iranica". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  5. Heron-Allen, Chiromancy, or the science of palmistry. London: Routledge & Sons, 1883.
  6. -Heron-Allen, Edward (1914). Selsey Bill Historic and Prehistoric. London: Duckworth.
  7. Heron-Allen, Edward (1943). The Parish Church of St Peter on Selsey Bill Sussex 2nd Edition. Chichester: Moore and Tillyer. p.18.
  8. Heron-Allen, Edward (2002). Edward Heron-Allen's Journal of the Great War: From Sussex Shore to Flanders Fields. Chichester: Phillimore & Co Ltd. ISBN 1-86077-200-5.
  9. "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  10. 1 2 Hodgkinson, R.L. & Whittaker, J.E. (2004). Edward Heron-Allen FRS (1861-1943): a review of his scientific career, with an annotated bibliography of his foraminiferal publications. in Archives of Natural History. Vol. 31. pp. 6-29
  11. "Edward Heron-Allan slide collection". Natural History Museum, London. Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  12. 1 2 ‘HERON-ALLEN, Edward’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 3 Jan 2011

External links

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