Isaline Blew Horner

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Isaline Blew Horner

Isaline-Blew Horner roi low resolution.tif
Born(1896-03-30)30 March 1896
Walthamstow, England
Died25 April 1981(1981-04-25) (aged 85)
RelativesAjahn Amaro (cousin)
Academic background
Alma materNewnham College, Cambridge
Academic work
Main interestsPali literature

Isaline Blew Horner OBE (30 March 1896 – 25 April 1981), usually cited as I. B. Horner, was an English Indologist, a leading scholar of Pali literature and late president of the Pali Text Society (1959–1981).[1]


On 30 March 1896 Horner was born in Walthamstow in Essex, England. Horner was a first cousin once removed of the British Theravada monk Ajahn Amaro.[2]

Cambridge years[edit]

In 1917, at the University of Cambridge's women's college Newnham College, Horner was awarded the title of a B.A. in moral sciences.[3][4]

After her undergraduate studies, Horner remained at Newnham College, becoming in 1918 an assistant librarian and then, in 1920, acting librarian. In 1921, Horner traveled to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India and Burma where she was first introduced to Buddhism, its literature and related languages.[5] In 1923, Horner returned to England, where she accepted a Fellowship at Newnham College and became its librarian. In 1928, she became the first Sarah Smithson Research Fellow in Pali Studies. In 1930, she published her first book, Women Under Primitive Buddhism. In 1933, she edited her first volume of Pali text, the third volume of the Papancasudani (Majjhima Nikaya commentary). In 1934, Horner was awarded the title of an M.A. from Cambridge. From 1939 to 1949, she served on Cambridge's Governing Body.

From 1926 to 1959, Horner lived and traveled with her companion "Elsie," Eliza Marian Butler (1885–1959).[6][7][8][9]

PTS years[edit]

In 1936, due to Butler's accepting a position at Manchester University,[8][9] Horner left Newnham to live in Manchester. There, Horner completed the fourth volume of the Papancasudani (published 1937). In 1938, she published the first volume of a translation of the Vinaya Pitaka. (She was to publish a translation of the last Vinaya Pitaka volume in 1966.)

In 1942, Horner became the Honorary Secretary of the Pali Text Society (PTS). In 1943, in response to her parents' needs and greater PTS involvement, Horner moved to London where she lived until her death.[8] In 1959, she became the Society's President[10] and Honorary Treasurer.


In 1964, in recognition of her contributions to Pali literature, Horner was awarded an honorary Ph.D by Ceylon University.[3][8]

In 1977, Horner received a second honorary Ph.D from Nava Nalanda Mahavihara.[8]

In 1980, Queen Elizabeth II made Horner an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her lifelong contribution to Buddhist literature.[6][8]


Horner's books (ordered by first identified publication date) include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Olivia, Nona (2014). "Editorial" (PDF). Sati Journal. Sati Center for Buddhist Studies. 2 (1): 3. ISBN 978-1495260049. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  2. ^ Amaro, Ajahn (2014). "I B Horner – Some Biographical Notes" (PDF). Sati Journal. Sati Center for Buddhist Studies. 2 (1): 33–38. ISBN 978-1495260049. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b Jayetilleke (2007).
  4. ^ At the time, Newnham was one of two women's colleges at Cambridge, the other being Girton College. At Cambridge women were awarded "titles" but not degrees until 1947.
  5. ^ Burford 2014, pp. 75-76
  6. ^ a b University of Cambridge (2007).
  7. ^ Boucher (2007), p. 121.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Burford (2005).
  9. ^ a b Watts (2006).
  10. ^ Norman (1982), p. 145
  11. ^ Alice M. Cooke. Manchester University Press. 1940.