De Beer Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection includes: working papers for publications on the history of science and literary topics; lectures and correspondence concerning literature and zoology; war files; and other general papers papers about his work 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 a Prize Fellowship of Merton College in 1923, and held this till 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. He then became Director of the British Museum (Natural History), 1950-1960. 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 great amount of books on a range of subjects from embryology and genetics to travelling in Switzerland. De Beer died on 21 June 1972.

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted access

Acquisition Information

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

Other Finding Aids

Draft handlist

Geographical Names