A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Layard, Sir Austin Henry

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Layard, Sir Austin Henry (1817-1894). -- Explorer of Nineveh, b. at Paris, s. of a Ceylon civilian. After spending some years in the office of a London solicitor, he set out in search of employment in Ceylon, but passing through Western Asia, became interested in the work of excavating the remains of ancient cities. Many of his finds -- human-headed bulls, etc. -- were sent to the British Museum. Two books -- Nineveh and its Remains (1848-49), and The Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (1853) -- brought him fame, and on his return home he received many honours, including the freedom of the City of London, the degree of D.C.L. from Oxf., and the Lord Rectorship of Aberdeen Univ. He entered Parliament, where he sat as a Liberal. He held the offices of Under-Foreign Sec. (1861-66), and Chief Commissioner of Works (1868-69), and was Ambassador to Spain 1869, and Constantinople 1877; and on his retirement in 1878 he was made G.C.B. He was a very successful excavator, and described his work brilliantly, but he was no great linguist, and most of the deciphering of the inscriptions was done by Sir H. Rawlinson. His last work was Early Adventures in Persia, etc., and he left an autobiography, pub. in 1903. He also wrote on Italian art.