Memorial Lectures

The Pearson Memorial Lectures were founded in 2000 to commemorate Professor James Douglas Pearson (1911-1997), Professor of Bibliography with reference to Asia and Africa at the University of London, former Librarian of the School of Oriental and African Studies, founder member of MELCOM (UK) and MELCOM International, creator and long-time compiler of Index Islamicus, and a bibliographer of world-wide renown.

The Pearson Memorial Lecture is now supported by James Pearson’s three sons – David, Robin and Jeremy Pearson.

The following lectures have been given:


2017 marks the 50 year anniversary of the MELCOM association, which first convened in Cambridge in June 1967 before it branched off to become MELCom international and MELCOM UK. For the 95th meeting in July 2017 we will be joining up both branches in MELCOM’s “birthplace” for the occasion of celebrating 50 years of a successful association of librarians around the world, with special recognition given to the founders. The Pearson memorial lecture will be delivered in three parts, by former MELCOM members in a “jubilee” panel, followed by round table discussion. For more information and the full programme please see the MELCom International website.


Professor Robert Irwin -Bibliographies of the Arabian Nights


Professor Ulrich Marzolph – Printing as an agent of tradition: Printed materials in nineteeth-century Qajar Iran


Dr Elaine Wright – An introduction to the Islamic collections of the Chester Beatty Library, Dr Jason McElligott – The Islamic Collection of Archbishop Marsh’s Library and Dr Alasdair Watson – Archbishop Marsh’s manuscript collection in the Bodleian.


Professor Charles Melville – The book as history in Iran.


Professor Paul Starkey – The novelist as political guide: Sun’ Allah Ibrahim and the Egyptian revolution.


Professor Francois Déroche – Qur’anic studies in mid-19th century Europe: encounters and missed opportunities.


Ian Netton Ibn Battuta in Wanderland – Voyage as text.


Sara Yontan-MusniK (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) “- Collecting library material from Turkey” (unpublished)


Muhammad Isa Waley (British Library) – “The importance of manuscripts in research on Islamic culture : some case studies” (unpublished)

Lesley Forbes (Oxford University) – The Bodleian Grand Tour: Near and Middle Eastern manuscripts. Unpublished.


Peter Colvin (School of Oriental and African Studies) The British discovery of Afghanistan: scholarship and Realpolitik, 1805-1842. Unpublished.


Jan Just Witkam (University of Leiden) The use and abuse of the Islamic book. Unpublished.


John McIlwaine (University College, London) Crossing the bibliographical Sahara: uncertainties in the relationship between the bibliography of the Middle East and North Africa and of Africa South of the Sahara. Unpublished.


Geoffrey Roper (former editor of Index IslamicusBibliography and the social history of Middle Eastern texts. Unpublished.


Derek Hopwood (University of Oxford) An unofficial history of the British in the Middle East: private papers as sources. Unpublished.


Paul Auchterlonie (University of Exeter) From the Eastern Question to the death of General Gordon: representations of the Middle East in the Victorian periodical press, 1876-1885. Published in the British Journal of Middle East Studies, 28(1), 2001, p. 5-24.