Rayne came from a Jewish family. His father, Phillip, was a garment manufacturer living in the East End of London. It was a modest but cultured home – his grandfather had been a Hebrew scholar and teacher and his father had a lively interest in music, opera and conversation. Max was educated at the nearby religious, but non-denominational, Central Foundation Boys' School, Bow. Max studied psychology and accountancy and took a night school course in law at University College, London (which later gave him an honorary doctorate). After service with the RAF in the Second World War Rayne rejoined the family clothing firm. Using sub-leases on its premises as his source of finance, he directed his attention to land and property development in bomb-damaged central London.
In 1941, Rayne married Margaret Marco and they had three children: Madeleine Barbara (b. 1943), Susan Ann (b. 1945) and Robert Anthony (b. 1949). Rayne and his wife divorced in 1960 and on 2 June 1965, he married Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart (a daughter of the 8th Marquess of Londonderry and sister of Lady Annabel Goldsmith) and they had four children: Natasha Deborah (b. 1966), Nicholas Alexander (b. 1969), Tamara Annabel (b. 1970) and Alexander Philip (b. 1973).
As Rayne had judged, the opportunities offered in the post-war period of booming reconstruction led to substantial business success and when, in 1962, he set up the Rayne Foundation and endowed it with a substantial shareholding in his companies, he created a well funded and influential charitable institution.
Although acting through the foundation, Rayne took a close personal interest in the causes it supported. He was soon on the governing bodies of most of the London teaching hospitals, where his business skills were highly valued, and prominent Jewish charities. In 1964 Darwin College, Cambridge was founded with support from the Rayne Foundation and a personal donation from Rayne himself, and this is acknowledged by the college in two notable ways: Firstly, on the college's coat of arms, which superimposes Rayne's coat of arms alongside that of the Darwin family's where the college gains its namesake. Secondly, the central building to the college is named the Rayne Building. Today, however, he is mostly remembered for his support for the arts: music, ballet, painting and the theatre. He was Chairman of the board of the National Theatre from 1971 until 1988 and so oversaw its move from the Old Vic to the present building in 1976.
Lord Rayne was knighted in 1969 and made a life peer as Baron Rayne, of Prince's Meadow in the County of Greater London, on 2 August 1976. He was also created a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1973, later promoted to Officier.
Coat of arms
- Davenport-Hines, Richard (January 2007). "Rayne, Max, Baron Rayne (1918–2003)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/92600.
- "No. 44804". The London Gazette. 7 March 1969. p. 2538.
- "No. 46981". The London Gazette. 5 August 1976. p. 10687.
- Hider, James (22 October 2007). "School crosses religious divide to teach children a lesson in unity". London: The Times. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- Maccauly, Gregor (2009). "The Arms of Charles Darwin". The New Zealand Armorist: The Journal of the Heraldry Society of New Zealand. 112 (Spring 2009): 12–14.
- Barker, Nicholas (13 October 2003). "Obituary: Lord Rayne". The Independent. Retrieved 13 December 2006.
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- Cowe, Roger (14 October 2003). "Obituary: Lord Rayne". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 December 2006.