George Bailey Sansom

George Bailey Sansom

George Bailey Sansom

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Sir George Bailey Sansom (November 28, 1883–March 8, 1965) was a historian of pre-modern Japan particularly noted for his historical surveys and attention to Japanese society.

Born in Kent and educated in France, he first served in Japan as an advisor and representative of the United Kingdom in 1904, and continued in similar positions for roughly 44 years hence. Knighted in 1935, he served as a member of the staff of the British consulate in Japan from 1939-1941. He was sent to Washington, D.C. and then to Singapore as war approached in 1941, and spoke with some of the top officials of the British Royal Navy the day before the sinking of the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, events which mark the beginning of the Pacific War for the UK.

Sansom returned to Washington, D.C. and remained there throughout World War II.

Sansom later taught at Columbia University (1947–1953), though he began teaching Japanese history there in the late 1930s; he became the first director of the East Asian Institute. His image can be found at

He retired in Palo Alto, California, home to Stanford University whose Stanford University Press had published his 1931 one-volume history of Japan and which in the late fifties and early sixties published his 3-volume history, still the standard account. He died in Tucson, Arizona.

As a scholar of Japanese history and society, he was closely associated with a number of other scholars, including Helen Craig McCullough, the faculty of Stanford University and...
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