George Uglow Pope

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Statue of G U Pope in Triplicane, Chennai

George Uglow Pope (1820–1908) popularly known as Rev. G.U. Pope or G.U. Pope was a Christian missionary who spent many years in Tamil Nadu and translated many Tamil texts into English. His popular translations include Tirukkural and Tiruvachagam. His efforts were recognized by the Royal Asiatic Society in the form of a gold medal. He was the head of the Bishop Cotton Boys' School, Bangalore before returning to Oxford.

George Uglow Pope was born on 24 April 1820 in Prince Edward Island in Canada. His family migrated to England when he was an infant. He left for South India in 1839 and arrived at Sawyerpuram near Tuticorin. Pope turned into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. He set up several schools and taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics and Philosophy.

He completed his translation of Tirukkural on September 1, 1886. His Sacred Kural contains introduction, grammar, translation, notes, lexicon and concordance. It also includes the English translation of F. W. Ellis and the Latin Translation of Constanzo Beschi (வீரமாமுனிவர்) with 436 pages. He had, by February 1893, translated Naaladiyaar (நாலடியார்), a didactic work of moral sayings in quatrains (வெண்பா), 400 in number in 40 chapters, each by a Jain ascetic, according to a Tamil tradition.

His magnum opus, the translation of Tiruvachakam(திருவாசகம்) appeared in 1900. Of this he said: "I date this on my eightieth birthday. I find, by reference, that my first Tamil lesson was in 1837. This ends, as I suppose a long life of devotion to Tamil studies. It is not without deep emotion that I thus bring to a close my life's literary work".

Rev. George Uglow Pope was also one of the founding members of the Bishop Cotton's School, Bangalore, and also served as its warden. He was also the first pastor of the All Saints Church, Bangalore.[1]

The much coveted Gold Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society was awarded to him in 1906. He died on 12 February 1908. He delivered his last sermon on May 26, 1907. Rev. Pope was buried at St Sepulchre's Cemetery, located in Jericho, central Oxford, England.


  • First lessons in Tamil: or a full introduction to the common dialect of that language, on the plan of Ollendorf and Arnold, Madras, 1856 (1st edition) *Title for the 1st edition of the following book*

A Tamil hand-book: or full introduction to the common dialect of that language on the plan of Ollendorf and Arnold, Madras, 1859 (2nd edition), 1867 (3rd edition) *Title for the 2nd and the 3rd edition of the following book* A handbook of the ordinary dialect of the Tamil language, London, 1883 (4th edition, 3 volumes), Oxford 1904 (7th edition) *Title for the latest editions* While coming from England to India,by sea without wasting time he read a book on how to speak Tamil,and after reaching India he gave a speech on Tamil fluently.

  • A larger grammar of the Tamil language in both its dialects, Madras, 1858
  • A text-book of Indian history; with geographical notes, genealogical tables, examination questions, and chronological, biographical, geographical, and general indexes, London, 1871 (1ère édition), 1880 (3è édition)
  • திருவள்ளுவAR அருளிச்செய்த திருக்குறள் (Tiruvalluvar arulicceyta Tirrukkural). The 'Sacred' Kurral of Tiruvalluva-Nayanar, London, 1886
  • முனிவர் அருளிச்செய்த நாலடியார் = The Naladiyar, or, Four hundred quatrains in Tamil, Oxford, 1893
  • St. John in the Desert: an introduction and notes to Browning's 'a death in the desert' , Oxford, 1897
  • The Tiruvacagam; or, 'Sacred utterances' of the Tamil poet, saint, and sage Manikka-Vacagar: the Tamil text of the fifty-one poems, with English translation, Oxford, 1900
  • A catalogue of the Tamil books in the library of the British Museum, London, 1909 (with L.D. Barnett)

Works contributed to Tamil[edit]

  • Lecturer of Tamil and Telugu in London
  • Translations of many important Tamil Literary Works
  • Special attention taken to improve Tamil Grammar
  • Established himself as a student of Tamil, in his coffin.
  • Wrote important articles about Tamil's cultural literary basis in magazines such as Indian Archaeological Survey
  • Created many grammatical reference guides for students as well as elderly people.
  • Selected 600 Tamil poems teaching valuable lessons and composed them and created " Tamil seyyut kalambagam " literally meaning " Composition of Tamil Poems".


  1. ^ Rizvi, Aliyeh (29 December 2014). "Resident Rendezvoyeur: A natural state of grace". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 

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