After studying at Jesus College, Oxford and receiving a doctorate from the University of Oxford, he lectured at the University of Wales, Swansea from 1957 to 1978, rising to become Professor. In 1978, he returned to Oxford University as Jesus Professor of Celtic and also became a Professorial Fellow of Jesus College. He was appointed as a Fellow of the British Academy in 1983, having delivered the Academy's Sir John Rhys Memorial Lecture in 1977, named in honour of the first Oxford Celtic Professor. He retired in 1996.
His particular research interest was early Celtic culture throughout Europe, dealing with its relationship with that of the classical world, and in the history of the Celtic languages and the early literatures of Wales and Ireland. A volume of essays on these topics by fellow Celticists was published in honour of his 65th birthday in 1995.
- Meic Stephens (2013-11-03). "Obituary: Professor D Ellis Evans - Obituaries - News". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-11-08.
- Essays in honour of Professor D. Ellis Evans on the occasion of his sixty-fifth birthday (University of Wales Press website) (accessed 18 February 2007)
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