skip to content

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


Isaline Horner was born in Walthamstow, 30 March 1896. She was educated at Prior's Field, Surrey, and Newnham College, Cambridge, BA, 1917, MA, 1934. She remained at Newnham College as Assistant Librarian, 1918-20, and Acting Librarian, 1920-1. She gave up her post to travel in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India and Burma (Myanmar), where she became interested in Buddhism, 1921-3. She returned to Newnham College as Librarian and fellow, 1923-36; Sarah Smithson Research Fellow, 1928-31; associate, 1931-59 and 1962-76; and associate fellow, 1939-49. She also served on the Governing Body, 1939-49, and gave a donation for the building of the Horner Library, 1961-2. She lived and worked in Manchester, 1936-43, and London, 1943-81, and continued to travel extensively in Ceylon, India and Burma. She was Honorary Secretary of the Pali Text Society, 1942-59, and President and Honorary Treasurer, 1959-81. She was awarded the OBE, 1980. She lived with her companion Elsie Butler, 1926-59. She died in London, 25 April 1981.

The collection mainly comprises manuscripts, articles, book reviews, lectures, notes, diaries, correspondence and photographs for 1903 - 1980.

In addition the collection includes the following family papers: Isaline Blew, letters, 1922, 1931-3; Elsie Butler (1885-1959), correspondence and papers, 1933-59; Anne Horner (d. 1943), letters, 1917-18, 1921-3, 1939; Frith Horner (1894-1917), photograph albums and a postcard, 1903, 1914-17; Leonard Horner (1861-1946), photograph albums, letters, and notes on family history, undated, 1884-5, 1914, 1923; Horner family, funeral sermon, 1744, invitation, 1893, investment accounts, 1909-15, and photographs, 1897-1940; Williams family, coats of arms, undated, 1764.

It is housed in 16 boxes and the following oversize items: three volumes, three rolls, one file, one sheet and two framed pictures.

The Library also holds a robe and a scroll presented to Isaline Horner by the Nava Nalanda Maha Vihara (New Nalanda Monastery). The boxes used to store Frith Horner's letters and the envelopes have been retained.