James Justinian Morier

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James Justinian Morier
Morier, portrait by an unknown artist
Morier, portrait by an unknown artist
BornJames Justinian Morier
(1782-08-15)15 August 1782
Smyrna, Ottoman Empire[a]
Died19 March 1849(1849-03-19) (aged 66)
Brighton, England[a]
OccupationNovelist, diplomat
Notable worksThe Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

James Justinian Morier (15 August 1782 – 19 March 1849)[a] was a British diplomat and author noted for his novels about the Qajar dynasty in Iran, most famously for the Hajji Baba series.

Early life[edit]

Morier was born in Ottoman Smyrna, the second son of Isaac Morier, a Swiss-born merchant, British by naturalisation, and a member of the London-based Levant Company, and Elizabeth Clara Van Lennep. After private education in England, he worked in his father's Smyrna business between 1799 and 1806.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Career in Iran[edit]

Through the influence of his uncle, Admiral William Waldegrave, 1st Baron Radstock, he entered the diplomatic service.[1] He first visited Iran in 1808 as secretary to Harford Jones-Brydges, a special British envoy to the Shah, publishing an account of his experiences in 1812 under the title A Journey through Iran, Armenia and Asia Minor to Constantinople in the years 1808 and 1809. In 1809 he accompanied the Iranian envoy, Mirza Abul Hasan, to Britain, and in 1810 returned to Iran as Secretary of Embassy on the staff of Sir Gore Ouseley, first Ambassador to Iran. He remained there as Chargé d'Affaires in 1814–1816.[citation needed] After his return to England he published A second journey through Persia, Armenia, and Asia Minor, to Constantinople, between the years 1810 and 1816.

Commissioner to Mexico[edit]

Morier married Harriet Fulke Greville in London in 1820. Between 1824 and 1826 he was special commissioner to Mexico, where he negotiated a British-Mexican Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation ratified in 1827.[2][3]

Writing career[edit]

With his knowledge of Eastern life and manners, Morier wrote several entertaining novels. The most popular were The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824) and its sequel, The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan in England (1828). The former novel is a sort of Gil Blas set in Persia. The Persian minister to England is said to have protested in behalf of his government against its satire and manner of speaking. There followed Zohrab the Hostage (1832), Ayesha the Maid of Kars (1834), and The Mirza (1841), all full of brilliant description, character-painting, and delicate satire, and several others of lesser quality.

  • The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824) 1937 edition, Random House, illustrated by the well-travelled Cyrus Leroy Baldridge. Baldridge had a hand in everything, from designing the cover and drawing dozens of illustrations to choosing the typeface and paper. A Persian translation of the book was produced by Douglas Craven Phillott.
  • The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan 1947 edition, The Heritage Press, imprint of The George Macy Companies, illustrated by Honore Guilbeau, preface by Sir Walter Scott


Morier died suddenly in Brighton on 19 March 1849, from "cerebral congestion".[a] His wife died in London in 1858.


The Adventures of Hajji Baba is an American movie, based on the Hajji Baba novels, which was produced in 1954.

Operation Hajji Baba, a humanitarian airlift operation conducted in 1952 by the US Air Force, took its name from the Hajji Baba novels.

Morier is credited with introducing into English the word "bosh", meaning absurd or foolish talk. It derives from the Turkish word boş meaning "empty".

In 1842, botanist Boiss. published Moriera a genus of flowering plants from Central Asia, belonging to the family Brassicaceae in his honour.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Morier, James Justinian". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19259. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) 23 September 2004. Stanley Lane-Poole, revised by Elizabeth Baigent. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
    The encyclopedia biography gives the dates and places of birth and death and the cause of death stated here. There are sources for other dates. Encyclopædia Britannica gives a lifespan of c. 1780 to 19 March 1849 (as of 2002, reported by the Library of Congress, or LCCN), which is revised from 1780 to 23 March 1849 (as of 1911, below). LCCN: n80-013276 notes reported birth years of 1780, possibly 1780 or 1782, and 1784.


  1. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Morier, James". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 18 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 836.
  2. ^ Pappas, James G. (1966). A Discussion of the British-Mexican Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation of December 26th, 1826 (PDF) (MA). Loyola University Chicago.
  3. ^ "History of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United Kingdom" (PDF) (in Spanish).
  4. ^ "Moriera Boiss. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 24 May 2021.

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