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FALCONER, FORBES (1805–1853), Persian scholar, born at Aberdeen, 10 Sept. 1805, was the second and only surviving son of Gilbert Falconer of Braeside, Fifeshire. He was educated at the grammar school and at Marischal College, where he obtained prizes in classical studies. His first publications, which appeared anonymously in local journals, were also classical, consisting of metrical translations from the Greek anthology. He commenced his oriental studies before the age of twenty, by attending the Hebrew classes of Professor Bentley in Aberdeen, and likewise began the private study of Arabic and Persian. Afterwards proceeding to Paris he attended, during nearly five years, the courses of De Sacy, De Chézy, and, for Hindustani, of Garcin de Tassy. After short visits to several German universities, Falconer returned to this country, and settled in London as a teacher of oriental languages, and occupied for a short time the professorship of oriental languages in University College, London. He is perhaps best known in the present day for his works on the ‘Būstān,’ from which he published in 1839 a volume of selections, very neatly lithographed from his own transcript. In the ‘Asiatic Journal,’ a useful periodical now defunct, he published a translation of part of the same poem, as well as selections from several of the Sufi poets, and a critical study of the ‘Sindibād Nāmah.’ For the Society for the Publication of Oriental Texts Falconer edited two important poems of Jāmi, the ‘Tuhfat-ul-Ahrār’ and ‘Salāmān u Absāl.’ The critical ability of these texts is attested by Francis Johnson in the preface to his edition of Richardson's ‘Persian Dictionary.’ Falconer's ‘Persian Grammar,’ which reached a second edition in 1848, is now a somewhat rare book.

Falconer was a member of the Asiatic Societies of London and Paris, and an honorary member of the American Oriental Society. He died in London, 7 Nov. 1853.

[Annual Report of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1853–4, Journal, vol. xv.; J. Th. Zenker's Bibliotheca Orientalis.]

C. B.