National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

James George Frazer (1854-1941)

James George Frazer (1854-1941)

Frazer was influential in the early phases of the modern studies of mythology and comparative religion. Frazer was an anthropologist and travelled across the British Empire collecting myths and folklore from different cultures. Many of these stories feature in The Golden Bough (1890), said to have influenced T.S.Eliot’s poem The Wasteland.

Frazer is commemorated in the Archivists’ Garden by the Daffodil as its Latin name Narcissus pseudonarcissus originates from the myth of Narcissus who was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection. Frazer argued in The Golden Bough that the myth originated from the belief that man's soul is situated in his reflection.

Birth in 1854

James George Frazer's birth entry, 1854

Frazer was born on 1 January 1854, the son of Daniel Frazer, a chemist, and Catherine Brown. The entry in the parish register of births and baptisms in the Barony parish of Glasgow gives the place of birth as 261 West George Street and date of baptism as 5 February 1854.
National Records of Scotland, 622/150/219

1871 Census

James George Frazer enumerated in the 1871 census

In 1871 James Frazer was enumerated in the census for the Barony parish of Glasgow along with his family. His father’s occupation is recorded as ‘Justice of [the] Peace’ and his son’s as ‘art student’.
National Records of Scotland, 644/6 49 page 28

Death in 1941

Frazer married Lilly Grove (born Elisabeth Johanna de Boyes Adelsdorfer in Alsace, France) in 1896, who was the widow of a British master mariner. She went to on to become his manager and publicist. Frazer died on 7 May 1941, Cambridge.