Norman Mosley Penzer

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Norman Mosley Penzer (30 September 1892 – 27 November 1960) — known as N. M. Penzer — was a British independent scholar and Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society who specialised in Oriental studies. He translated the tale of Nala and Damayanti in 1926 from Sanskrit.[1]


Penzer’s father, the Reverend Seymour Penzer (1857–1918), was ordained in the Established Church (Church of England) and finished his career in charge of the Chapel Royal, Brighton, Sussex. Educated at the University of Cambridge, Penzer's interests encompassed economics, geology, comparative anthropology, folklore, the history of exploration, and old silver.

In Penzer’s obituary, the Royal Geographical Society lamented that his "gifts of scholarship were never as fully developed as many thought they might have been". An eminent authority on Sir Richard Francis Burton, the Society remarked that “it will always be a matter of regret that he did not write the definitive biography of Burton it was so well within his power to do." [2]



As editor:

  • An Annotated Bibliography of Sir Richard Francis Burton, K.C.M.G. (1923); London: A. M. Philpot. (Reprinted 1970)[3]
  • Burton, R. F. (1924), Selected Papers on Anthropology, Travel & Exploration, Now edited with an Introduction and Occasional Notes by N. M. Penzer; B. Blom, 240 pages. (Reprint: Ayer Co Pub, 1972)
  • The Ocean of Story, Being C. H. Tawney's Translation of Somadeva's Katha Sarit Sagara (or Ocean of Streams of Story) (1924–28), London: Chas. J. Sawyer: Volumes I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X on the Internet Archive (Annotated reprint of a group of ancient Indian folktales, first translated in the 1880s)[4]
  • Nala & Damayanti, A. M. Philpot, 1926; Illustrated with ten miniatures by P. Zenker
  • Hamilton, Alexander and Sir William Foster (1930), A New Account of the East Indies ... Edited with Introduction and Notes by Sir William Foster, (General Editor: N. M. Penzer.) [With Maps], London.
  • Basile, Giambattista, Benedetto Croce, Norman Mosley Penzer, and Stith Thompson (1932), The Pentamerone of Giambattista Basile; 2 volumes, John Lane.
  • Topukapu Kyūden No Hikari To Kage, 29 pages.
  • Anthropological Notes on the Sotadic Zone of Sexual Inversion Throughout the World Including Some Observations on Social and Sexual Relations of the Mohammedan Empire, by Richard F. Burton, with Photographs of Anthropological Rarities... and Rare Burton Collectanea (n.d., 1930s?), The Falstaff Press, 95 pgs (edited anonymously by Penzer and privately printed)

Original works:



  1. ^ S. M. E. (April 1927). "Nala and Damayanti by Norman M. Penzer". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (2): 363–364. JSTOR 25221149. 
  2. ^ "Obituary Dr. Norman Mosley Penzer, LITT. D., F. S. A., F. G. S., F. R. G. S.". The Geographical Journal. 127 (1): 142. March 1961. JSTOR 1793263. 
  3. ^ Lieberman, Tucker (January 22, 2013), “Book review: An Annotated Bibliography of Sir Richard Francis Burton, by N. M. Penzer” @ Helium.
  4. ^ Lieberman, Tucker (January 24, 2013), "The History of N. M. Penzer's Edition of the Ocean of Story" @ Helium

External links[edit]