Dilks was born in Foleshill, a suburb of Coventry, and attended The Royal Grammar School Worcester before winning a scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford, to read History. He remained in Oxford to do research at St Antony's College before becoming research assistant to Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan. He was the official biographer of the latter as well as producing a two-volume biography of the viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, and a biography of Neville Chamberlain.
In 1977 he became a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
- Dilks, David (1969-70). Curzon in India. 2 vols., Hart-Davis.
- Dilks, David (1984). Neville Chamberlain: Volume 1, 1869-1929. Cambridge University Press.
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