Duncan Wilson

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Sir Archibald Duncan Wilson GCMG (12 August 1911 – 20 September 1983) was a British diplomat and Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.


Wilson was born on 12 August 1911 in Winchester to Archibald Edward Wilson, German teacher at Winchester College, and Ethel Wilson, daughter of banker and financier Felix Schuster. He was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford where he studied Classics.[1]

After his studies in Oxford he applied for the Diplomatic Service but due to a back ailment was not successful. He then spent a year teaching in Westminster School and then joined the British Museum as assistant keeper in 1937.

During the war the opportunity arose to join the Foreign Office and after the war he served in Berlin for the Allied Control Commission for Germany.

He then specialised in Communist affairs and held the following positions:

He retired from the diplomatic service in 1971 and was appointed Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. While at Corpus he was also Chairman of the Appeal Committee of Cambridge University and was instrumental in the procurement of a new building to house the Faculty of Music. He retired from the Mastership in 1980 and was succeeded by Michael McCrum.

He died on 20 September 1983 aged 71.


Wilson wrote several books including:

  • Life and Times of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić (1970)
  • Tito's Yugoslavia (1979)
  • Leonard Woolf: A political biography, ed. Powell, (1978), ISBN 0-312-48001-6


Wilson's younger sister was the philosopher Mary Warnock.[4] Wilson married Elizabeth Fleming in 1937 and had three children, Elizabeth, Catherine (born 1940) and David (1941–1975). His daughter Elizabeth married Romanian pianist Radu Lupu. He was a good friend of the composer Benjamin Britten and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.


  1. ^ Archibald Duncan Wilson – holmesacourt.org
  2. ^ The London Gazette, 6 November 1964
  3. ^ The London Gazette, 26 November 1968
  4. ^ Brown, Andrew (19 July 2003). "The practical philosopher". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-10-27.


Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sir Michael Creswell
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Belgrade
Succeeded by
Sir Terence Garvey
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Harrison
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Moscow
Succeeded by
Sir John Killick
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Frank Lee
Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Michael McCrum