George Henry Borrow

1803-1881. Author, linguist, traveler, and friend of gypsies. From 1818 he was articled to a firm of Norwich solicitors. He learned languages in his spare time, and in 1824 went to London where he carried out translation work for a publisher, for which he was grossly underpaid. Later, in great poverty, he left London as a tramp. From 1827 to 1840, and again in 1844 and 1854, Borrow wandered on foot in Europe and the East, working at various times for a newspaper and, both in Spain and in Russia, for the British and Foreign Bible Society.* In Spain he was arrested several times. He anticipated the dangers; he knew, he said, that “very possibly the fate of St. Stephen might overtake me.” In 1840 he married and settled in England to write. Of his colorful books on travel, transcribed by his wife Mary from random jottings, The Bible in Spain (1841) brought him immediate fame. His later studies were much concerned with gypsies: they include a complete Romany dictionary. Over a dozen biographies of him have been written, the most recent those by M.D. Armstrong (George Borrow, 1950) and E. Bigland (In the Steps of George Borrow, 1951).