Born in London on November 26, 1869, Marjory Scott Wardrop was a life-long friend of Georgia, its people and its literature.
She began her study of Georgian with nothing more than an alphabet and a Gospel. By the age of twenty she had chosen to devote herself to the study of Georgian. She would eventually master a total of seven languages, the others being French, German, Italian, Russian and Romanian. She not only learned to speak them, but studied the literature of each as well. He travels took her across Europe, to North Africa and to Haiti; she spent three years living in Romania and a decade in various parts of the Russian empire.
Her command of the Georgian language was so excellent that when she wrote to Ilia Chavchavadze (pictured right) requesting permission to translate The Hermit, a copy of her letter was published in his newspaper, Iveria, as a model of style. When she arrived in Transcaucasia in December, 1894, she was received with great enthusiasm. On this and subsequent travels she met a wide variety of Georgians from every class and formed a number of lasting friendships which resulted in a regular and extensive correspondence in Georgian. “There is hardly a household in the Western Caucasus,” one commentator writes, “where her name is unknown. Others, have studied the language, literature, and history, of Georgia; she in addition felt an affection for the nation, kept herself informed of all that concerned its welfare, and was sometimes able unobtrusively to do good work for it.”
Though fragile and weak of body, Wardrop was known for her “subtle humor, strength of mind and warmth of heart.” On three successive occasions – in Port-au-Prince (1902), in St. Petersburg (1905), and in Bucharest (1907) – she found herself in the midst of war, but faced violence and pestilence with calm resolve, always sharing in the perils of those around her.
She translated and published Georgian Folk Tales (London, 1894 - cover piece left), The Hermit by Ilia Chavchavadze (London, 1895), The Life of St. Nino (Oxford, 1900) and The Knight in the Panther's Skin by Shota Rustaveli (London, 1912).
She died at Bucharest on December 7, 1909 and was buried at Sevenoaks. Her brother, the British diplomat and scholar of Georgia, Sir Oliver Wardrop, created the Marjory Wardrop Fund at Oxford University “for the encouragement of the study of the language, literature, and history of Georgia, in Transcaucasia.” Her books and manuscripts now reside in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.