Michael Franklin was a medievalist in a former life by the muddy banks of the Ouse, but he now lingers by the perfumed Yamuna. Since editing Sir William Jones: Selected Poetical and Prose Works (1995) and writing the critical biography Sir William Jones (1995), he has been investigating colonial representations of India and their various interfaces with Romanticism. He has edited Representing India: Indian Culture and Imperial Control (2000), and The European Discovery of India: Key Indological Sources of Romanticism, 6 vols (2001): and authored a series of articles on the Hastings circle which forms the current focus of his research. He also published the well-received Romantic Representations of British India, ed. Michael J. Franklin, (London: Routledge, 2006); and Phebe Gibbes, Hartly House, Calcutta, ed. Michael J. Franklin (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007).
He was accorded the honour of being invited by Professor Ashok Bhattacharyya to address The Asiatic Society in Calcutta on 2 February 2006 on the subject of Sir William Jones and pluralism. This paper has been published as ‘Pluralism Celebrated and Desecrated: A Mughal and British Imperial ‘Romantic’ Legacy’, The Journal of the Asiatic Society, 48: 2 (2006), 69-90.
His critical biography of Sir William Jones: ‘Orientalist Jones’: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer, and Linguist, 1746-1794 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), the foremost Orientalist of the eighteenth century and one of the greatest intellectual navigators of all time, was critically acclaimed.
He has written a variety of articles on subjects as diverse as the Celtic Revival, the Oriental Renaissance, ‘Indianism’, Phoenicianism, Piozzi, Gagnier, Gibbes, Britanus, Brutus and Iolo, the brahmachari and the missionary, hand-fasting, turdidae, and asses. He continues to publish widely in several areas, but principally on Romantic representations of the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East, including those of Joseph Emin, Sir William Jones, Phebe Gibbes, Elizabeth Montagu, Sydney Owenson, Lady Morgan, Robert Southey, Byron, Henry Gally Knight, and Nathaniel Brassey Halhed. He is currently working on another book on Jones; a new paperback edition of Gibbes’s Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) with Manchester University Press; and a study of Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi. He is also one of the editors on the Elizabeth Montagu Letters Project.