Saturday, 3 September 2016

Donation of J. E. Stapleton Driver Collection of Tibetan texts to Bodleian

J.E. Stapleton Driver
in Kalimpong, 1958
In May 2014,  J. E. Stapleton Driver passed away.
Many in the Tibetan Studies field will know of the works he translated, 
Tibetan Civilisation (by R.A.Stein) and 
Tibet, Land of Snows (by G. Tucci). 

Driver was a graduate of Merton College (in Classical Chinese, 1954), 
and then pursued his interests in Tibetan studies (Guhyagarbha Tantra
in Kalimpong, Gangtok and Kathmandu, 1957-60. 
He returned to St Antony's College as a fellow to continue his researches (1961-65), and thus was in Oxford when the Tibetan Buddhist lama tulkus Trungpa Rinpoche, Akong Rinpoche and Chime Rinpoche first came to Oxford (1963).
In the early 1970s Driver created a descriptive catalogue of the Tibetan manuscripts and older xylographs held at Bodleian, which is still used today.

One of John Driver's sons, Felix Driver, kindly got in touch earlier in 2016 to enquire whether the Bodleian Tibetan Collection would like to receive his father's Tibetan texts, and also the books, thangkas (scroll paintings) and Tibetan artefacts. 
Bodleian readily agreed, and the Driver Collection has been formed.

Sample box of wrapped texts ready for transport
(136 texts in all)
Sample box of loose texts ready for transport
(estimated 400 smaller texts in all)
In future, the catalogue shelfmark heading for the manuscripts and early xylographs will be 'MS. Driver' followed by the relevant number. The catalogue records should appear on Karchak (online digital catalogue of Tibetan texts in Bodleian) when that is published online.
Meanwhile, back in the 1960s, Gene Smith had created a catalogue that included 35 of Driver's collection which had been microfilmed at the British Library. The catalogue was published by T.V.Wylie (U of Washington, 1969), the Driver Collection records are in vol. 2.

After 2 days of sorting through the collection, by Felix Driver and Charles Manson, eventually on July 7th 2016 the Driver Collection was transported to Weston Library to be deposited in the Special Collections storage. Thanks due to Edward Adcock and his team for facilitating the move so easily.
After the sorting, 2 happy people (Manson & Driver).
Subsequently on August 2nd, Felix and his mother, Mrs Anne Driver, and sister Tabitha were able to visit Weston Library to see where the collection is, and some Tibetan Studies scholars in Oxford were there for the happy occasion.

Robert Beer, Felix Driver, Anne Driver, Prof Heather Stoddard
discussing a thangka from the Driver Collection
Inspecting a Tibetan xylograph text
(Stoddard - A Driver - F Driver - Manson - Ujeed)
Inspecting a Tibetan manuscript (18th century) of the Driver Collection
(F Driver - A Driver - Stoddard - Manson - Ujeed)

Below are a few details of MS. Driver 1 : 
MS. Driver 1 (Weston Library)

Much work to be done cataloguing the collection - updates will be forthcoming.

With many thanks to the Driver family -


Tibetan Studies documents @ University of Washington, Seattle

The curse of a researcher - Curiosity - was piqued on seeing over time several footnote references to an unpublished article by Gene Smith, 
The Era of 'Gro-mgon 'Phags-pa and the Apogee of Sa-skya power: 
a Preliminary Report. (1962)

An initial enquiry email to TBRC produced no result - they did not have the piece.
Further communication with staff at University of Washington Library (Seattle) eventually unearthed a listing of a cache of papers on Tibetan Studies written 1959-1971 - 
with thanks to Martha E. Pearson for her adept assistance.
UoW Library has now put the listing online as a PDF.

(curiously, the Gene Smith 1962 article is not listed on the PDF,
although UoW does have the article)

Hard copies of the papers and articles can be ordered from UoW Library, 
through this link.