Davison, Peter (Hobley) 1926-
DAVISON, Peter (Hobley) 1926-
PERSONAL: Born September 10, 1926, in Newcastle upon Tyne, England; son of Thomas Mather (a master mariner) and Doris (a stage manager and film researcher; maiden name, Hobley) Davison; married Sheila Mary Bethel (a teacher), March 5, 1949; children: Simon, John, Hugh. Ethnicity: "English." Education: "By private, part-time study," London, External B.A., 1954, M.A., 1957; Sydney University, Ph.D., 1963; De Montfort University, D.Litt., 1999. Politics: "Ineffective Liberal." Religion: Church of England (Honorary Steward, Westminster Abbey, 1986—). Hobbies and other interests: Reading, music.
ADDRESSES: Office—1 Hughes Close, Marlborough SN8 1TN, England. Agent—Bill Hamilton, A. M. Heath and Co., 79 St. Martin's Ln., London WC2 4AA, England.
CAREER: Educator, writer. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, England, lecturer, 1965-70, senior lecturer, 1970-73; St. David's University College, Lampeter, Wales, professor of English, 1973-79; University of Kent, Kent, England, professor of English and American literature, 1979-82; Secretary to Trustees of Albany, London, England, 1983-92; De Montfort University, Leicester, England, 1992-2001, senior research professor, acting head of department, 1994-95; North East Wales Institute of Higher Education, research professor, 2001—. Fellow at University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute, 1964-65 and 1971-72; Cecil Oldman Lecturer at University of Leeds, 1984; visiting professor in performing arts at Westfield College, London, 1986-89. Military service: British Royal Navy, petty officer, 1944-48.
MEMBER: Bibliographical Society (president, 1992-94), Malone Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Award from British Academy for research conducted at Folger Library, 1982; Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), 1999; honorary doctorate in the arts, De Montfort University, 1999; Gold Medal, Bibliographical Society, 2003.
(With others) Futures Valuing of Greasy Wool Clips, [Sydney, Australia], 1961.
The Rocks (screenplay), ABC-TV [Sydney, Australia], 1963.
(Editor) John Marston, The Dutch Courtesan, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1968.
(Editor) Songs of the British Music Hall: A Critical Study, Oak, 1971.
(Editor and contributor) Theatrum Redivivum (seventeen volumes), Johnson Reprint Corp. (New York, NY), 1972.
The Contexts of English (monograph), University of Wales Press (Cardiff, Wales), 1975.
The Seven Deceits (dance drama), produced in Lampeter, England, 1978.
Henry V in the Context of the Popular Dramatic Tradition (monograph), Contexts and Connexions 8, 1981.
Contemporary Drama and the Popular Dramatic Tradition in England, Barnes and Noble Books (Totowa, NJ), 1982.
Popular Appeal in English Drama to 1850, Barnes and Noble Books (Totowa, NJ), 1982.
Hamlet: Text and Performance, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1983.
(Editor and contributor) Year's Work in English Studies, Murray (London, England), 1984–85.
Sheridan: Comedies: A Case Book, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1986.
Henry V: Masterguide, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1986.
(Editor) George Orwell, The Complete Works of George Orwell (twenty volumes), Secker & Warburg (New York, NY), 1986–1998, revised, 2000–02.
Othello: The Critical Debate, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1988.
Othello/Peter Davison, Humanities Press International (Atlantic Highlands, NJ), 1988.
The Book Encompassed: Studies in Twentieth-Century Bibliography, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1992.
George Orwell: A Literary Life, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Service for Worship: The Honorary Stewards of Westminster Abbey, 1851-2001, Westminster Abbey, 2001.
(Editor) Orwell and Spain, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Orwell and the Dispossessed, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Orwell's England, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) Orwell and Politics, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Specialist editor) George Orwell's Letters and Documents in U.K. Libraries and Archives (microfilm; 11 rolls), Microform Academic Publishers (East Ardsley, England), 2004.
editor, with rolf meyersohn and edward shils
Art and Social Life, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Art and Changing Civilization, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Bookselling, Reviewing, and Reading, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Content and Taste: Religion and Myth, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Mass Media and Mass Communication, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Literature and Society, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
The Cultural Debate, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
The Sociology of Literature, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Theatre and Song, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
The Writer and Politics, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
Uses of Literacy: Media, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), c. 1978.
(And author of introductions) Literary Taste, Culture and Mass Communication, fourteen volumes, Somerset House (Teaneck, NJ), 1978–80.
Contributor to New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, 1900-1950, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1972; contributor and compiler of bibliography, Pelican Guide to American Literature, edited by B. Ford, Pelican (New York, NY), 1987; editor of editions of various works, including William Shakespeare's plays Richard II, Arnold, 1964, The Merchant of Venice, Arnold, 1967, Henry IV, Part 1, Penguin, 1968, and Henry IV, Part 2, Penguin (New York, NY), 1977; contributor to periodicals. Editor of Railways and Ink, both 1949-52; Alta: University of Birmingham Review, 1966-70; and Library: Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, 1971-82.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Edition of letters written to a soldier, 1942-45.
SIDELIGHTS: Peter Davison is an authority on English literature and drama who has taught at such institutions as the University of Birmingham, St. David's University College, and University of Kent. He was professor of English and American literature at the University of Kent from 1979 to 1982, when he left full-time teaching and pursued a career as a writer while also acting as Secretary to the Trustees of an eighteenth-century building (Albany, London). When he retired in 1992, he became a research professor at De Montfort University, and later at North East Wales Institute of Higher Education.
Davison has edited a wide range of publications, from Songs of the British Music Hall: A Critical Study to editions of William Shakespeare's plays Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, and Henry IV: Part 1 and Henry IV: Part 2, and from drama criticism such as Popular Appeal in English Drama to 1850 and Contemporary Drama and the Popular Dramatic Tradition in England to reconsiderations of George Orwell's writings. Davison supervised the publication of all of Orwell's writings, with authoritative editions of his nine standard works becoming available 1986-87. Eleven volumes of Orwell's other writings, including many letters to Orwell, appeared in 1998, some 6,500 pages. As Jo Thomas noted in a 1986 New York Times article, "George Orwell was so extensively censored by his editors that his publishers in both England and the United States have decided to republish his complete works to reflect more accurately what he wrote." Davison, who edited the updated collection of Orwell's writings, remarked in the same New York Times piece that the new editions "will represent better what [Orwell] wanted."
In reviewing the collection in the Daily Telegraph, Michael Shelden noted that "one can only marvel at the devoted service which one British scholar has given to [Orwell's] genius. His is a real labour of love in a selfish age dominated by the greed and corruption that Orwell so eloquently warned against. And the edition itself is a national treasure." New Statesman's Bernard Crick wrote, "His feat is awesome…. This is a scholarly edition of world class. We can now be as sure as it is possible to be that we can read all that Orwell wrote much as he meant it to appear after the often dangerous journey between manuscript and printed page."
Robert Pearce reviewed George Orwell: A Literary Life for the Review of English Studies, noting that Davison's "unrivaled knowledge of texts has enabled him to provide an immensely detailed literary history…. The literary influences he identifies are legion, necessarily so for such a voracious reader as Orwell." Pearce wrote that "throughout the book, Davison reveals new insights into Orwell's life and writings. Sometimes they stem from his work as a literary detective…. Often they result from common sense and critical awareness." Pearce concluded by calling it "a very good book indeed, written with real authority and sympathy."
In addition to his published works, Davison wrote the screenplay for The Rocks, a thirty-minute film produced in 1963, and he supplied the script and narrative for The Seven Deceits, a staged dance production performed in 1978. He has provided words for piano music by Prokofiev and Kachachurian, performed by David Howells at the Edinburgh and Buxton Festivals, 1991-92.
Davison told CA: "I see my work in facilitating understanding of what others have written, now mainly through writing and editing, but with still a little teaching. In addition to attempting to restore texts, I have had the interesting task of helping restore an historic building in London. Apart from scholarly editing, most of my study and writing is concerned with drama."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daily Telegraph, June 23, 1998, Michael Shelden, review of The Complete Works of George Orwell.
New Criterion, September, 2001, Stephen Schwartz, review of Orwell and Spain, p. 63.
New Statesman, July 17, 1998, Bernard Crick, review of The Complete Works of George Orwell, p. 44.
New York Review of Books, October 22, 1998, Timothy Garton Ash, review of The Complete Works of George Orwell, p. 10.
New York Times, March 8, 1986, Jo Thomas.
Review of English Studies, February, 1998, Robert Pearce, review of George Orwell: A Literary Life, p. 115.
Spectator, July 4, 1998, Bevis Hillier, review of The Complete Works of George Orwell, p. 65.
Times Higher Education Supplement, July 24, 1998, Scott Bradfield, review of The Complete Works of George Orwell, p. 22.