Robert Nisbet Bain (1854–1909) was a British historian and linguist who worked for the British Museum.[1][2][3]

Robert Nisbet Bain
The grave of Robert Nisbet Bain in Brookwood Cemetery
Born1854 (1854)
Died1909(1909-00-00) (aged 54–55)
EmployerBritish Museum
Known forLinguist

Life edit

Bain was born in London in 1854 to David and Elizabeth (born Cowan) Bain.[1]

Bain was a fluent linguist who could use over twenty languages. Besides translating a number of books he also used his skills to write learned books on foreign people and folklore. Bain was a frequent contributor to the Encyclopædia Britannica.[4] His contributions were biographies and varied from Andrew Aagensen to Aleksander Wielopolski. He taught himself Hungarian in order that he could read Mór Jókai in the original after first reading him in German. He translated from Finnish, Danish and Russian and also tackled Turkish authors via Hungarian. He was the most prolific translator into English from Hungarian in the nineteenth century. He married late and died young after publishing a wide range of literature from or about Europe.[1]

He is buried in Brookwood Cemetery.

Works edit

  • Gustavus III. and his contemporaries 1746-1792. 2 Bände. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1894.
  • The daughter of Peter the Great. A history of Russian diplomacy. Westminster: Archibald Constable, 1899
  • Peter III. Emperor of Russian. The story of a crisis and a crime. London: Archibald Constable, 1902.
  • Biography of Leo Tolstoy, 1903.
  • Scandinavia. A political history of Denmark, Norway and Sweden from 1513 to 1900. Cambridge: University Press, 1905
  • The First Romanovs. A History of Moscovite Civilisation and the Rise of Modern Russia Under Peter the Great and His Forerunners. 1905. Reprint, New York: Russell & Russell, 1967.
  • Slavonic Europe: A Political History of Poland and Russia from 1447 to 1796, Cambridge University Press, 1908.
  • The last King of Poland and his contemporaries. London: Methuen, 1909
  • Charles XII and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire 1682-1719, NA Kessinger Pub. Co. 2006, ISBN 1-4326-1903-9.

Translations edit

  • Russian Fairy Tales, 1892
  • Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales, London : Lawrence and Bullen 1894
  • Turkish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales, 1896
  • Tales from Tolstoi, 1901
  • Tales from Gorky, 1902


  • Mór Jókai:
    • Egy Magyar Nábob, 1850; engl. A Hungarian Nabob, New York : DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1899[6]
    • The Day of Wrath
    • The Poor Plutocrats
  • Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie:
    • Weird Tales from Northern Seas[7]

Bibliography edit

  • Elias Bredsdorff: Danish Literature in English Translation; in: Orbis Litterarum 5 (1) 1947, S. 187–257.[8]
  • L. C. Wharton: Transcription of Foreign Tongues; in: Transactions of the Philological Society 29 (1), S. 59–112[9]
  • Roxoliana Zorivchak: The First English Translations of Ukrainian Fairy Tales; in: Forum 62 (Summer 1985): S. 9–11.

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Czigány, Lóránt. "Bain, Robert Nisbet (1854–1909)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30536. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Norgate, Gerald le Grys (1912). "Bain, Robert Nisbet" . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. ^ "Bain, Robert Nisbet". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 75.
  4. ^ Author:Robert Nisbet Bain  – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ Bains' works at, accessed June 2010.
  6. ^ Jókai, Mór (3 April 2007). A Hungarian Nabob – via Project Gutenberg.
  7. ^ Lie, Jonas; Housman, Laurence (21 September 2004). Weird Tales from Northern Seas – via Project Gutenberg.
  8. ^ Bredsdorff, Elias (1 January 1947). "Danish Literature in English Translation". Orbis Litterarum. 5 (1): 187–257. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0730.1947.tb00954.x.
  9. ^ Wharton, L. C. (1 November 1921). "Transcription of Foreign Tongues". Transactions of the Philological Society. 29 (1): 59–112. doi:10.1111/j.1467-968X.1921.tb00762.x.

External links edit