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Richard Peter Treadwell Davenport-Hines[1][2][3] (born 21 June 1953 in London)[4] is a British historian and literary biographer, and a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.[5]

Early life[edit]

Davenport-Hines was educated at St Paul's School, London (1967–71)[6] and Selwyn College, Cambridge (which he entered as Corfield Exhibitioner in 1972 and left in 1977 after completing a PhD thesis on the history of British armaments companies during 1918–36).[7] He was a research fellow at the London School of Economics (1982–86), where he headed a research project on the globalisation of pharmaceutical companies.[8] He was joint winner of the Wolfson Prize for History and Biography in 1985[9] and winner of the Wadsworth Prize for Business History in 1986.[10] He now writes and reviews in a number of literary journals, including the Literary Review and The Times Literary Supplement. He is an adviser to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, to which (as of December 2022) he has contributed 169 biographies. During 2016, he was visiting fellow at All Souls College, Oxford.[11]

Davenport-Hines' Alma Mater, Selwyn College, Cambridge


He was a trustee of the London Library between 1996 and 2005, and was on the committee of the Royal Literary Fund from 2008 to 2018.[12] He is a member of the Athenaeum Club, London, Brooks's Club and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since and the Royal Historical Society since 1984. He was chairman of the judges of the Biographers’ Club Prize in 2008, and of the judges of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History in 2010.

He is a judge of the Cosmo Davenport-Hines Prize for Poetry awarded annually since 2009 to members of King's College London – named in commemoration of his son who died on 9 June 2008, aged 21. He also inaugurated the Cosmo Davenport-Hines Memorial Lecture given from 2010 to 2015 under the joint auspices of King's College London and the Royal Society of Literature.

He was a leading signatory to a letter in The Guardian urging Britain to remain in the European Union during the membership referendum of 2016.[13]


He has contributed to several volumes of historical or literary essays. These include an essay on English and French armaments dealers operating in eastern Europe in the 1920s in Maurice Lévy-Leboyer, Helga Nussbaum and Alice Teichova (editors), Historical Studies in International Corporate Business (1989); an essay on HIV in Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich (editors), Sexual Knowledge, Sexual Science (1994); a historical critique of drugs prohibition laws in Selina Chen and Edward Skidelsky, High Time for Reform (2001); a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to W.H. Auden (2005); and a memoir in Peter Stanford (editor), The Death of a Child (2011).


  • Dudley Docker: The Life and Times of a Trade Warrior (Cambridge University Press, 1984)[14]
  • Markets and Bagmen, Studies in the History of Marketing and British Industrial Performance, 1830–1939 (Ashgate, 1986) editor
  • Speculators and Patriots: Essays in Business Biography (Cass, 1986)
  • Business in the Age of Reason (Cass, 1987) editor with Jonathan Liebenau
  • Enterprise Management and Innovation (Cass, 1988) editor with Geoffrey Jones
  • British Business in Asia Since 1860 (Cambridge University Press, 1989) editor with Geoffrey Jones
  • The End of Insularity – Essays in Comparative Business History (Cass, 1989) editor with Geoffrey Jones
  • Business in the Age of Depression & War (Cass, 1990) editor
  • Capital Entrepreneurs and Profits (Cass, 1990) editor
  • Sex, Death and Punishment: Attitudes To Sex & Sexuality In Britain Since The Renaissance (Collins, 1990)
  • Glaxo A History to 1962 (Cambridge University Press, 1992) with Judy Slinn
  • The Macmillans (Heinemann, 1992)
  • Vice – An Anthology (Hamish Hamilton, 1993)
  • Auden (Heinemann, 1995)
  • Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin (Fourth Estate, 1998)
  • The Pursuit of Oblivion: A global history of narcotics 1500–2000 (Weidenfeld, 2001)[15]
  • A Night at the Majestic (Faber, 2006)/[16] (in USA, Proust at the Majestic)
  • Ettie – the Intimate Life and Dauntless Spirit of Lady Desborough (Weidenfeld, 2008)[17]
  • Titanic Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew (HarperCollins, 2012)[18]
  • An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo (HarperCollins, 2013)[19]
  • Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (Collins, 2015)
  • Edward VII: the Cosmopolitan King (Penguin, 2016)[20]
  • Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain (HarperCollins, 2018)[21]
  • (edited) Hugh Trevor-Roper, Letters from Oxford: to Bernard Berenson (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006).[22]
  • (edited) Hugh Trevor-Roper, Wartime Journals (London: I. B. Tauris, 2012).[23]
  • (edited with Adam Sisman) One Hundred Letters from Hugh Trevor-Roper (Oxford University Press, 2014).[24]
  • John Meade Falkner: Abnormal Romantic (London: Roxburghe Club, 2018).[25]
  • (edited) Hugh Trevor-Roper, China Journals: Ideology and Intrigue in the 1960s (London: Bloomsbury, 2020).[26]
  • Conservative Thinkers from All Souls College, Oxford (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2022)[27]


  1. ^ Enterprise, Management and Innovation in British Business, 1914-80, ed. Richard Davenport-Hines and Geoffrey Jones, Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, 1988, front matter
  2. ^ Book Review Digest, March 2006 to February 2007 inclusive, vol. 102, ed. Clare Doyle, H. W. Wilson Co., 2006, p. 326
  3. ^ The Cambridge University List of Members up to 31 December 1991, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 631
  4. ^ : ‘Births’, The Times, 22 June 1953
  5. ^ Dr. Richard Davenport-Hines All Souls College, Oxford
  6. ^ Arthur Hugh Mead, St Paul’s School Registers (London: St Paul’s School, 1990), p. 622
  7. ^
  8. ^ Who's Who 2023
  9. ^ "All Winners. 1985 Dudley Docker: The Life and Times of a Trade Warrior". The Wolfson History Prize. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  10. ^ Past winners Business Archives Council[dead link]
  11. ^ Who’s Who, 2016
  12. ^ Who's Who 2023
  13. ^ "Lessons from history for the Brexiters". The Guardian. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  14. ^ Peter L. Payne, ‘Dudley Docker’, Business History Review, vol. 60 (spring 1986), 153-4
  15. ^ "The Pursuit of Oblivion by Richard Davenport-Hines". Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  16. ^ Conrad, Peter (29 January 2006). "Last supper with Proust". The Observer. Retrieved 30 March 2023 – via The Guardian.
  17. ^ "Review: Ettie by Richard Davenport-Hines". Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  18. ^ Caterson, Simon (17 February 2012). "Lost at sea but not forgotten". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  19. ^ Morrison, Blake (4 January 2013). "An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2023.
  20. ^ "Review: Richard Davenport-Hines, 'Edward VII'". 3 June 2016.
  21. ^ Aaronovitch, David. "Review: Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain by Richard Davenport-Hines". The Times. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  22. ^ Leslie Mitchell, ‘Fights for the Right’, Times Literary Supplement, 28 July 2006
  23. ^ John Banville, ‘A Prince of the Essay’, New York Review of Books, 15 August 2013; Sir Michael Howard, ‘A good hater’s loves’, Times Literary Supplement, 10 February 2012
  24. ^ John Banville, ‘A Splendid Introduction’, Guardian, 20 January 2014
  25. ^ Michael Dirda, ‘A time when leaders and millionaires were also men of letters’, Washington Post, 23 January 2019
  26. ^ Brian Young ‘How mad rich British left-wingers became China’s “useful idiots”’, Daily Telegraph, 4 July 2020
  27. ^ Davenport-Hines, Richard (2022). "Conservative Thinkers from All Souls College Oxford". Boydell & Brewer. doi:10.2307/j.ctv2j04swb. JSTOR j.ctv2j04swb. S2CID 251354470. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)