Professor Richard Gombrich


Professor Richard Gombrich was born in London just prior to the second World War.

His father, Sir Ernst Gombrich, was an historian whose book – The Story of Art – has been translated into more than 30 languages and made the family fortune.

After two years of compulsory military service, spent mostly in Germany, he progressed from St. Paul’s School to Magdalen College at Oxford University.

Half way through his four-year course at Oxford University he changed from Classics (Latin and Greek) to Oriental Languages – Sanskrit and Pali.


In 1961, he won a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard University where he received a masters in Sanskrit literature. However, his interest in Buddhism was even greater than that in Sanskrit, and he wrote his Oxford doctoral thesis on the practice of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. For this he studied some anthropology and did a year’s fieldwork in a Sinhalese village.

At Oxford, Richard worked as a University Lecturer until 1976, and then was chosen as the Boden Professor of Sanskrit. With this went a Fellowship in Balliol College at Oxford University.

Richard held office in the Pali Text Society for about 15 years, ending as its President.

He is also an honorary life member of the International Association of Buddhist Studies.

Richard also founded the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and is the editor of its Journal.

To read Karim’s interview with Richard kindly click here.