Fonds DRD - Papers of Derek Davis

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Reference code



Papers of Derek Davis


  • 1973-2023 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 archival box containing 5 folders of handwritten or typed sheets

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Derek Davis was born on 3 May 1945 and educated at Clifton College, a school renowned for its excellence in classical and modern language teaching
By 1962 he had a Russian A level, had visited Russia and, armed with Hindi-Russian dictionaries and conversational phrasebook, was at Scindia School, Gwalior, where he taught Shakespeare, Dickens and Gerald Durrell to 13-year-olds who would go on to become public servants, generals, admirals, businessmen and academics. He then went up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Greats.
During the Oxford long vacation of 1965, he embarked on an overland trek to India via Erzurum and back with his Balliol friend, Christopher Bayly. An unexpected consequence was that the latter changed his proposed research subject from Russian and Eastern European history to work instead (with Professor Sarvepalli Gopal) on South Asia.
His career in the civil service left little time for Pushkin, but on his retirement, he continued to work on his translations of the History of Pugachev and the Journey to Arzrum which was published by the Royal Asiatic Society as a supplement to their Journal in 2022. He also served on the Society's Council and its Finance and Investment Committee.
He died on 8 July 2023.

Archival history

The papers were in the custody of Derek Davis until his death.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The papers were received from Davis' widow, Diana, on 02/04/2024.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

The papers are mainly concerned with Derek Davis' interest in Russian history and, in particular, research for his translation of Pushkin’s ‘A Journey to Arzrum during the Campaign of 1829’.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

The papers arrived in five folders. These have become the series for cataloguing this archive, the titles for each series being taken from the original folders.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open. Please contact the archivist. Details can be found here : The archive is open on Tuesdays and Fridays 10-5, and Thursdays 2-5. Access is to any researcher without appointment but it will help if an appointment is made via phone or email. Please bring photo ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Digital photography (without flash) for research purposes may be permitted upon completion of a copyright declaration form, and with respect to current UK copyright law.

Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • Russian

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    Related units of description

    Books from the library of Derek Davis were donated at the same time as this collection.
    The archival material relates to the special supplement to the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 32 (2022), S3–S117 ‘A Journey to Arzrum during the 1829 Campaign by A. S. Pushkin: Translation with Commentary’, by Derek Davis.

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    Level of detail

    Dates of creation revision deletion

    This material was catalogued by Matt McKenzie, RAS Archive volunteer, in 2024.




        Accession area