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Donald McLeod Matheson’s life and work
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Donald McLeod Matheson
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Biography of Donald McLeod Matheson

Donald Macleod Matheson (1896-1979) was born into an aristocratic Scottish family. He was educated at Oxford University, where he became acquainted with a large number of people who were later to achieve renown.

In World War I, Macleod Matheson’s back was badly injured, causing him considerable pain throughout his life.

From 1934 to 1945 Matheson held the post of Secretary to the National Trust, a body dedicated to the preservation of beautiful areas of the countryside, and also of some of the “great” houses of the past. For his devoted service in the National Trust, he received the decoration C.B.E. Between the wars, he paid a visit to the United States. In the earlier, or middle, part of their lives, the Mathesons lived in London. Matheson was a close friend of Gerald Palmer (a Christian traditionalist, author, editor, and translator), and in the mid-1950s he and his wife, Enid Futvoye Matheson, moved to one of Palmer’s properties, a beautiful house and garden near Newbury, Berkshire.

Mr. Matheson maintained associations with Frithjof Schuon, and other notable Perennialists, for many years.

Matheson was knowledgeable about Hindu and Islamic spirituality, and in January through February, 1959, he and his wife visited Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Pakistan, and Persia (Iran). In India the Mathesons spent most of their time in Madras State (Tamilnad), where they had an audience with the Jagadguru of Kanchipuram (the 68th Shanharâchârya Svâmigal of Kânchî Kâmakôti Pîtha). The Jagadguru graciously communicated to them his acceptance of Frithjof Schuon’s intention to dedicate to him his book Language of the Self, which had been translated into English by Marco Pallis and Matheson. In Pakistan, Matheson negotiated the publication by Ashraf, Lahore, of the English translation — by himself — of Introduction to Sufi Doctrine by Titus Burckhardt. In Persia they visited Seyyed Hossein Nasr in Teheran.

Matheson spoke French fluently, and made English translations of Understanding Islam by Frithjof Schuon and Introduction to Sufi Doctrine by Titus Burckhardt. He was an occasional contributor to the journal Studies in Comparative Religion. He published one book: The National Trust Guide to Places of Natural Beauty (Batsford, London, 1950).

Books/DVDs containing the work of Donald McLeod Matheson

Contributions of D. M. Matheson to World Wisdom books

Donald McLeod Matheson’s Bibliography

Books written by D. M. Matheson

The National Trust Guide to Places of Natural Beauty. London: Batsford, 1950.

Books translated by D. M. Matheson

Schuon, Frithjof. Spiritual Perspectives and Human Facts, trans. Macleod Matheson. London: Faber and Faber, 1954.

Schuon, Frithjof. Castes and Races, trans. Marco Pallis and Macleod Matheson. Pates Manor, Bedfont, Middlesex: Perennial Books, 1959.

Schuon, Frithjof. Language of the Self, trans. Marco Pallis and Macleod Matheson. Madras: Ganesh, 1959.

Schuon, Frithjof. Understanding Islam, trans. Macleod Matheson. London: Allen & Unwin, 1963, 1976, 1979; Baltimore, Maryland: Penguin Books, 1972.

Burckhardt, Titus. An Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, trans. Macleod Matheson. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Thorsons Publishers Limited, 1976 (new edition published as Introduction to Sufi Doctrine, Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2008).

Essays contributed by D. M. Matheson to the journal Tomorrow, which later was renamed Studies in Comparative Religion

“Knowledge and KNOWLEDGE.” Tomorrow 12, no. 2, (1964): 115-118.

“Psycho-Analysis and Spirituality.” Tomorrow 13, no. 2, (1965): 103-108.

“Two Indian Saints.” Tomorrow 13, no. 3, (1965): 38-41.

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