Colvin, Howard 1919-2007 (H.M. Colvin, Howard Montagu Colvin)

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Colvin, Howard 1919-2007 (H.M. Colvin, Howard Montagu Colvin)


See index for CA sketch: Born October 15, 1919, in Sidcup, Kent, England; died December 27, 2007. Historian, educator, biographer, editor, and author. As a boy Colvin enjoyed exploring the British countryside in search of medieval ruins; he grew up to become one of his country's most respected architectural historians. Colvin was said to be particularly devoted to searching obscure sources in order to build comprehensive dossiers on architects great and small, using his meticulously accumulated lists of designs and commissions based on the history of the structures they built. This method enabled him to document the careers of scores of architects who never achieved celebrity but nonetheless made solid contributions to the architectural landscape of Great Britain. Sources could be found in dusty local record offices or town meeting minutes, as well as royal libraries. The structures he researched ranged from palaces to public buildings and vacation lodges, from schools to churches and monasteries. Using this technique, Colvin wrote the highly regarded reference work A Biographical Dictionary of English Architects, published originally in 1954 and revised in a fourth edition as recently as 2007. Colvin studied architectural history and taught medieval history at St. John's College, Oxford, from 1948 to 1987. He continued his painstaking research at British archives throughout the country and wrote several books. He was a welcome participant in the preservation efforts of the Royal Fine Art Commission, the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, the Historic Buildings Council, and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, to name just a few of his appointments. Colvin's dedication to British antiquities was recognized when he was decorated a commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Colvin edited a six-volume collection, The History of the King's Works (1962-82). He wrote several other volumes, including Building Accounts of King Henry III (1971), Architecture and the After-life (1991), and Essays in English Architectural History (1999).



Times (London, England), January 1, 2008, p. 47.