De Beer Papers

Scope and Content

Papers of Sir Gavin Rylands De Beer, the majority c1939-1972, consisting of: notes and drafts for publications and lectures on the history of science and literary topics; correspondence concerning literature and De Beer's scientific work; papers from De Beer's work during the First and Second World Wars; financial and legal papers; and some personal correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

De Beer was born on 1 November 1899 at Malden, Surrey. His early life was spent abroad and he attended the Ecole Pascale in Paris. He came to England in 1912 and attended Harrow School, followed by Magdalen College Oxford. He joined the Grenadier Guards and was called up, but the First World War ended soon afterwards. He returned to Oxford and studied zoology, achieving a first class honours in 1921. He was elected to a Prize Fellowship of Merton College in 1923, and held this until 1938. From 1926 to 1938 De Beer was Jenkinson Lecturer in Embryology at Oxford. He served in the Second World War, being involved with psychological warfare. From 1946 to 1950 he was Professor of Embryology at University College London and from 1950 to 1960 Director of the British Museum (Natural History). He then joined the publishing company Thomas Nelson, initially as a Director and later as Editorial Consultant. He was President of the Linnean Society from 1946 to 1949. He was knighted in 1954. He won many medals during his lifetime and published a many of books on a range of subjects, from embryology and genetics to travelling in Switzerland. De Beer died on 21 June 1972.

Access Information

Certain restrictions apply

Some items in this collection are not available for general access due to data protection and confidentiality restrictions. Specific restrictions are explained in the description for each item.

Acquisition Information

Presented by the executors of Lady De Beer in December 1973.

Other Finding Aids

A detailed list is available online.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.