Daniel Marcus (Dan) Davin, CBE (1 September 1913 – 28 September 1990), was an author who wrote about New Zealand, although for most of his career he lived in Oxford, England, working for Oxford University Press.
He was born in Southland, New Zealand, into an Irish Catholic family in (largely Scottish Presbyterian) Invercargill, and was educated at local Catholic primary and secondary schools. He won a scholarship for a final school year at Sacred Heart College in Auckland, then a university scholarship to the University of Otago. In 1934 he received First Class Honours in English, and in 1935 a Dip. MA Single Honours in Latin. Two of his novels, Cliffs of Fall (1945) and Not Here, Not Now (1970), are set in Otago University, although Bertram says they are "among his least satisfactory works".
Winning a Rhodes Scholarship in 1935, he studied at Balliol College Oxford (BA, 1st class 1939, MA 1945). He served as an intelligence officer in the New Zealand Division in the Middle East in World War II, being evacuated from Greece and wounded on Crete. He was mentioned in despatches three times and awarded an MBE (Mil.). Writing the official war history Crete took most of his spare time from 1946 to 1953.
He worked for Clarendon Press, Oxford (England), 1945–78, then as Assistant Secretary to the Delegates of Oxford University Press 1948–70, and Deputy Secretary to the Delegates 1970–78. He was a fellow of Balliol College 1920–78, then an emeritus fellow. He died in Oxford, where he had been "a heroic drinker in the college buttery and a chosen string of Oxford pubs" (Bertram).
Post-war he took part in a BBC Radio discussion on the Battle of Monte Cassino with the former German commander Frido von Senger, who had also been a Rhodes Scholar, and Desmond (Paddy) Costello, who like Davin had been in Freyberg’s intelligence team.
The themes of his earliest fiction, in short stories that include Saturday Night, Late Snow, The Apostate, The Basket, The Vigil, and The Milk Round, were growing up in the poor Irish Catholic family of Mick Connolly in Southland. Subsequently he wrote of "New Zealanders at war, post-war tensions, exile and return".
In 1939 he married Winifred "Winnie" Gonley, also from Southland, and they had three daughters. Dan and Winnie co-authored a publication for schools by the Department of Education School Publications Branch, Writing in New Zealand: The New Zealand Novel (1956, Parts 1 & 2). They were friends with Joyce Cary.
His works of fiction are:
- Cliffs of Fall (1945)
- For the Rest of Our Lives (1947)
- The Gorse Blooms Pale (1947, short stories)
- Roads from Home (1949)
- The Sullen Bell (1956)
- No Remittance (1959)
- Not Here, Not Now (1970)
- Brides of Price (1972)
- Breathing Spaces (1975, short stories)
He also wrote collections of short stories and non-fiction books, including:
- Crete (1953) The Official New Zealand War History
- Closing Times, his literary memoirs (1975, Oxford University Press)
- London Gazette (supplement), No. 50766, 30 December 1986. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
- James Bertram, Dan Davin, Zealand Writers and Their Work series, Oxford University Press, 1983, ISBN 0-19-558095-8
- Keith Ovenden, A Fighting Withdrawal: The Life of Dan Davin, Writer, Soldier, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996.
- James McNeish, Dance of the Peacocks: New Zealanders in Exile in the Time of Hitler and Mao Tse-tung, Vintage, Auckland, 2003
- Janet Wilson (ed.), Intimate Stranger: Reminiscences of Dan Davin, Steele Roberts, Wellington, 2000.