An unpublished English translation of Abd al-Latif?

It’s always worth doing a Google trawl.  You never know what you may find.

This evening I was idly looking to see what I could find in English by Galen.  I kept hitting “next page”.  Much of it was dross.  But then… I struck gold.

I found myself looking at a page at the British National Archives.  It turned out to be a catalogue of papers held at the Royal College of Physicians in London, once belonging to a certain Dr Greenhill.  Greenhill, whoever he was, was interested in Galen and in the Arabic material about him.

There are translations of extracts from the great biographical dictionary of medical writers by Ibn Abi Usaibia.  These are probably good themselves, tho brief.

But then I stumbled across this:

Translation of Account of Egypt by Abd Al Latíf Ibn Yúsuf  MS-GREEW/264/153  n.d

These documents are held at Royal College of Physicians of London

In two Folders; 1st Folder 120pp; 2nd Folder pp. 131 – 140; Unbound

Now as far as I know there is no published English translation of this work, although of course I am no Arabist and I might be quite mistaken.  But here is 140 pages of translation in manuscript!  This, surely, needs to be copied and placed online?

I’ve enquired about the possibilities here.

But I also see various standard works in German on the subject, bound interleaved with blank paper on which the good doctor has written notes.  These too might be very interesting!

Mind you, a thought has struck me.  Given the notorious badness of the handwriting of members of the medical profession, will we be able to read any of what he wrote?


4 thoughts on “An unpublished English translation of Abd al-Latif?

  1. > This, surely, needs to be copied and placed online?

    I’m not British, but one should check the copyright rule for unpublished manuscripts. Probably the term of protection lasts at least until the end of 2039.



    Unpublished manuscripts with an author created before 1989 remain in copyright until at least 2039 and until at least 70 years after the death of the author (whichever is the later date). Where such works are 100 years old and the author has been dead for 50 years, the work may nevertheless be reproduced by the Library for the purposes of research or private study or with a view to publication. Permission for publication itself however must be sought from the copyright owner.

    Unpublished manuscripts with an author created after 1989 remain in copyright until the end of the year in which the author died + 70 years.

    Unpublished manuscripts with an unknown author remain in copyright until the year created + 70 years.

  2. Thank you for these notes. Isn’t that quite extraordinary! So a work written before 1894 — probably considerably before — must remain inaccessible until 2039?

    That sounds daft, wrong, or both, even if the IPO say it. But it’s entirely possible all the same.

    So … a handwritten ms. of a translation by someone living in 1600 is still in copyright?

    British copyright is stupid anyway, but this would be a new low.

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