An attempt is made in this monograph to explore the life and research work of William Erskine (1773-1852), the first Secretary of the Literary Society of Bombay (later the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society of London and now the Asiatic Society of Mumbai). His discerning mind and accomplished pen have left an indelible mark in the world of scholarship about the Mughul period of India’s history.
His translation (in collaboration with John Leyden) of the original text Memoirs of Zehir-Ed-Din Muhammed Baber was published as early as in 1826. His monumental work, A History of India under the two first sovereigns of the House of Taimur: Baber and Humayun, was posthumously published in two volumes in 1854. The articles written by Erskine between 1813 and 1821 and published in the Transactions of the Literary Society of Bombay were hailed by scholars as works of exceptional literary merit.
The turmoil and crisis in his personal life did not obstruct his passionate research, which he continued with steadfast determination and devotion. The bust of Erskine, placed in the foyer of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, appears to be the only lasting testimony to his tenacious pursuit of scholarship—seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge, away from fame and fortune.