He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and as a teenager read Madame Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine and became interested in the teachings of Theosophy. He received both his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, where he studied with William James and William Butler Yeats. He then studied Celtic mythology and folklore at Jesus College, Oxford (1907); there he adopted the form Evans-Wentz for his name. He travelled extensively, spending time in Mexico, Europe, and the Far East. He spent the years of the First World War in Egypt. He later travelled to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and India, reaching Darjeeling in 1919; there he enountered Tibetan religious texts firsthand.
eBook The Tibetan Book of the Dead