Charles Phillip Brown

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Charles Phillip Brown
Born 10 November 1798
Died 12 December 1884
Occupation Civil servant
Nationality British
Education Indian Civil Service
Literary movement Collection of Telugu books
Notable works Telugu dictionary

Charles Philip Brown (10 November 1798 – 12 December 1884) was a Telugu writer and an Englishman by descent. He worked as an official in Cuddapah and Rajahmundry during the British rule in India.

Telugu literature was in a dormant phase and declined in 18th century because of various social and political reasons, including lack of creative Telugu poets, prevailing illiteracy and decline of empires, like Vijayanagara Empire, who were patrons of the literature. Brown being an official in the region collected the works, printed them and he believed he saved the heritage of the Telugu language. In his own words, "Telugu literature was dying out; the flame was flickering in the socket in 1825, I found Telugu literature dead. In 30 years I raised it to life".

Janamaddi Hanumth Sastri who has done an extensive research on Brown established a library in Kadapa in his memorial.[1]


Charles Brown was born in Calcutta on 10 November 1798. His father David Brown was a manager of an orphanage and a missionary and scholar in many languages including Sanskrit. Charles Brown moved back to England in 1812 after his father's death and returned to Madras on 4 August 1817 to obtain training from Haileybury College for a civil service job in India.[2]

In 1820, Sir Thomas Monroe, governor of Madras had ordered that every official should learn a local language. As part of the curriculum he had to learn a local language and he chose Telugu language under the guidance of Velagapudi Kodandarama Panthulu. Charles Brown passed Telugu exam as well as the civil service exam in 1820. He joined as a deputy to Mr. Hunbury, the collector of Cuddapah. He was inspired by Hunbury's fluency in Telugu and improved his Telugu more. He was transferred to Machilipatnam in 1824 and then to Rajahmundry in 1825. His administrator services at the time of the Great Guntur famine(1832–1833) were highly appreciated.

He was relieved from his duties in 1834. He went back to London and stayed there from 1835 to 1838. Brown returned to Madras again in 1837 as a translator of Persian for the East India Company and joined as a member of the Madras College Board. He retired in 1854 because of health reasons and went back to London again. He worked as a Telugu Professor at the London University for some more time before his death on 12 December 1884 in London.

Although he patronised Telugu[3] he was a polyglot. Some of the other languages he knew were: Greek, Latin, Persian, Sanskrit.

Literary service[edit]

Charles Brown established two schools in Cuddapah and two more schools in Machilipattanam. The schools provided free food to students and free education which included Telugu. He did three great services for Telugu: he produced his own works, he recovered and discovered old works and he printed books in Telugu.

His interests turned to Vemana's literature in 1824. He studied Vemana's works and other Telugu literature. He also studied Telugu meter and grammar under the guidance of Venkatasivasastri Tippabhatla and Advaitabrahmasastri Vatthyam. Charles Brown was transferred to Rajahmundry in 1825. He continued his study of Telugu literature. He collected the written scripts of Telugu Kavyas (poems) that were on the verge of extinction. He hired some copyists/writers (raayasagaallu) to prepare fresh copies. He reprinted Andhra Mahabharatamu and Andhra Mahabhagavatamu.

He also wrote several grammar and prosody books and learning materials for English people who were interested in learning Telugu. He created Telugu-English dictionaries. He authored chronicles and monographs in literary journals. He translated many poetical works. Madras Oriental Library still hosts many works of C. P. Brown.

He also collected essays, stories, poems etc. that have no written copies, but were popular among folks. Since 1824, he started collecting old books of Tikkana and Potana and poems of Vemana. During his stay in London around 1835–38, he collected 2,106 hand written books in South Indian Languages from the India House Library and sent them back to India ( to Chennai Library).

He edited and published several Telugu and Sanskrit books. He also hired writers and created fresh copies of the old books.Brown was also an editor of the Madras Journal of Literature and Science. He also wrote articles about the stories of the manuscripts he collected in The Asiatic Journal in London.

Charles Brown spent his own money for the development of Telugu and even took loans for the same. He saved every penny for the development of Telugu. Even in tough financial times he didn't give up his Telugu development programs. He retired in 1854 and settled in London. He worked at London University as Telugu Professor for some time.[2]



  • A Dictionary, Telugu and English, (Telugu: బ్రౌణ్య నిఘంటువు Brownya Nighantuvu)[citation needed] explaining the Colloquial Style used in Business, and the Poetical Dialect, with Explanations in English and in Telugu; explaining the English Idioms and Phrases in Telugu. with the Pronunciation of English Words. With a Dictionary of Mixed Telugu, also an Explanation of the Telugn Alphabet. By Charles Philip Brown. Three vols. Madras, 1852–54.
  • A Grammar of the Telugu Language, By Charles Philip Brown, Second Edition, much enlarged and improved, Madras, 1857.
  • A Dictionary of the Mixed Dialects and Foreign Words used in Telugu; with an Explanation of the Telugu Alphabet By C. P. Brown, Madras, 1854.
  • The Telugu Reader, being a series of Letters, Private and on Business, Police and Revenue Matters, with an English Translation, Notes explaining the Grammar, and a little Lexicon. By Charles Philip Brown. Three Parts. Madras, 1852.
  • A Little Lexicon, explaining such Words as occur in the first three Chapters of the Telugu Reader, and in the Telugu Dialogues. By C. P. Brown. Madras, 1862.
  • Dialogues in Telugu and English, with a Grammatical Analysis. By C. P. Brown. Second Edition. Madras, 1853.
  • The Zillah Dictionary, in the Roman Character; explaining the various Words used in Business in India. By C. P. Brown, Madras, 1852.
  • Disputations on Village Business; the Original Telugu Record. Edited by C. P. Brown. Madras, 1855.
  • Andhra Geervana Chandamu (ఆంద్ర గీర్వాణ చందము) (Prosody of Telugu and Sanscrit), College Press, Madras in 1827.
  • Vemana Satakam (వేమన శతకము) (verses of Vemana): Collection of 693 poems by Vemana along with English Translation and glossary in 1829.
  • Lokam Cheta Vrayabadina Subha Vartamanamu (లోకం చేత వ్రాయబడిన శుభ వర్తమానము), translation of bible stories in Telugu.
  • The Wars of the Rajas or Rajula Yuddhamulu (రాజుల యుద్ధములు), being the History of Anantapur. Written in Telugu; in or about the year 1750–1810. Translated into English by Charles Philip Brown. Madras, 1853.
  • Brown's grammar book of Telugu in 1840
  • Telugu to English and English to Telugu dictionaries (తెలుగు-ఆంగ్ల నిఘంటువు, ఆంగ్ల-తెలుగు నిఘంటువు) in 1852 and 1854.
  • Vemana Satakam (వేమన శతకము) (verses of Vemana): Second collection of 1164 poems by Vemana along with English Translation and glossary in 1839.

Other publishings[edit]

He had prepared commentaries for all of the published works so that non-scholars can understand them. Some of the publishings sponsored by him are:

He also left many press ready copies like Basavapurana, PanDitaaraadhya Charitra, Ranganaatha Ramayanam, 'Uttara Raamaayanam, Vijaya Vilasam, Sarangadhara Charitra, Hari Vamsam, Kasi Khandam, Aniruddha Charitra, Kuchelopakhyaanam, Radhika Santvanam, Vikramaarka charitra etc. They were published by different institutions in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh after his death.

He also collected poems of Sumathi Satakam and Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy published it in 1973 acknowledging him. This is similar to Vemana Satakam that Brown published.


He collected the stories and poems of common people and published them first. Though he was less interested in pedantic works, he also published many major Telugu works along with translations written by him or other copiers closely monitored by him. He prepared an index, a glossary and commentaries to all the works. Brown mentioned that the purpose of the commentary was to make the poems to be understood clearly without oral instructions. He also included many spoken words in his dictionary.

There is no concrete evidence that Brown introduced any more than Sandhi breaks for the Telugu alphabet. The 1906 Linguistics Survey of India does not credit Brown for change in alphabets or making it easy for pronunciation.


He died in 1884 on 12 December at the age of eighty-seven.[citation needed] He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery (The General Cemetery of All Souls) in London.

Awards and titles[edit]

  • He is respected as Andhrabhashodhadara, saviour of Telugu.[citation needed]
  • Andhra Pradesh State government has erected a statue in his honour in Hyderabad and placed it along with statues of twenty other great Telugu people.
  • A library building was constructed at Cuddapah on the site of Brown's Bungalow known in those days as Brown's College.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Janamaddi passes away". HMTV. Retrieved 17 August 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Lane-Poole 1889.
  3. ^ [1], Excerpts from the 1906 edition of Linguistic Survey of India (Telugu).
  4. ^ Trubner's American and Oriental literary record; Volumes 1–4; 2 November 1866; Pages 359 – 360.


External links[edit]