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Peter Davison (literary scholar)

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Peter Davison

Born(1926-09-10)10 September 1926
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died16 August 2022(2022-08-16) (aged 95)
Swindon, England
  • Academic
  • biographer
SubjectsGeorge Orwell
Sheila Bethel
(m. 1949; died 2017)

Peter Hobley Davison OBE (10 September 1926 – 16 August 2022) was a British professor of English and an authority on the life and works of George Orwell.[1]



Born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 10 September 1926,[2] he worked in the Crown Film Unit and served in the Navy during the Second World War. He gained his bachelor's degree through correspondence and also had a master's degree in bibliography and palaeography.[3]



After some time as a Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute, a lecturer at the University of Sydney, and as lecturer and senior lecturer at Birmingham University, he was appointed Professor of English at Saint David's University College (later University of Wales Trinity Saint David) and then at the University of Kent and De Montfort University, Leicester.[3][4] He was later an emeritus professor of English at Glyndŵr University.

In 1992, he was president of the Bibliographical Society[5] and edited its journal, The Library, for 12 years. He received the Society's Gold Medal in 2003.[6] From 1991 to 2005 he was Secretary of the Economic and Social Research Council in London. Between 1986 and 1998 he was also Honorary Steward of Westminster Abbey.[7]

In 1998, assisted by his wife, Sheila Davison, and Ian Angus[8] he edited the 20-volume The Complete Works of George Orwell (Secker & Warburg, 1998).[9]

In 2012 Davison announced the launch of The Orwell Society[10] and was made an honorary founding member the following year. In 2013, he edited Orwell's Diaries[11][12] and Orwell: A Life in Letters.[13]

Personal life


Davison married Sheila Bethel in 1949. They had three children and remained together until her death in 2017.[14] He died at a hospital in Swindon on 16 August 2022, at the age of 95.[14][15]


  • George Orwell: A Literary Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 1996)
  • The Complete Works of George Orwell (Secker & Warburg, 1998) ISBN 0 436 20377 4
  • The Lost Orwell (Timewell Press, 2007) ISBN 978-1857252149
  • George Orwell: A Life in Letters (Penguin, 2011)


  1. ^ Bateman, Ron (20 August 2022). "Peter Davison: A Personal Memoir". The Orwell Society – Articles. The Orwell Society. Retrieved 21 August 2022.
  2. ^ Contemporary Authors. Gale Research Company. 1998. p. 78. ISBN 9780787619930. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b Taylor, DJ (4 September 2022). "Peter Davison obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  4. ^ The Orwell Diaries. Penguin UK At Google Books. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Past presidents" Official website. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Gold Medalists" Official website. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Peter Davison 4: English Academic Approached to Edit Orwell". orwellsociety.com. 19 April 2020. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  8. ^ "The Troubled History Behind George Orwell's Complete Works" Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Orwell's every word" Times Higher Education. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  10. ^ Davison, Professor Peter (22 October 2011). "Farewell & Hail to Orwell site". The Orwell Society Newsletter. 1. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Garden of Notes by Author of 'Animal Farm'" The New York Times. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  12. ^ "Diaries, by George Orwell" The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Welcome from Peter Davison". 20 August 2008.
  14. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (15 September 2022). "Peter Davison, Orwell Scholar on a Monumental Scale, Dies at 95". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  15. ^ "Davison, Prof Peter Hobley OBE". The Daily Telegraph. 23 August 2022. Retrieved 23 August 2022.