Edward Byles Cowell was born in Ipswich on 23 January 1826 and died in Cambridge on 9 February 1903. Educated at Ipswich Grammar School, by 1841 he was contributing articles to The Ipswich Radical Magazine and Review which demonstrated both liberal politics and considerable literary knowledge, augmented in the same year by his discovery of Sir William Jones's complete works in the town library. He began to study Persian, and subsequently Arabic, with the aid of a retired East India Company Army officer, and in 1842 published some translations of Persian poetry in the Asiatic Journal. He contributed articles to the Westminster Review on Oriental and Spanish literature, and to Fraser's Magazine on the Persian poets, which led to his meeting noted scholars of Persian and Arabic; he became the life-long friend of Edward FitzGerald, who introduced him to Tennyson and Thackeray. His study of Sanskrit was initiated in the East India Company Library, and from 1850 as an undergraduate at Magdalen Hall, Oxford under the tuition of the celebrated Sanskritist, Horace Hayman Wilson. At Oxford he also learned Hebrew, catalogued Oriental manuscripts at the Bodleian, taught Aristotle's ‘Ethics’, and established his reputation as an Orientalist with valuable editions of Kālidāsa's drama Vikramorvasi (1851), and of Vararuchi's grammar Prākrita-Prakāsa (1854).
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.