Howard Colvin

Howard Colvin

:For the character on the HBO television series The Wire, see Howard "Bunny" Colvin.

Sir Howard Montagu Colvin, CVO, CBE (15 October 1919 – 27 December 2007), was a British architectural historian who produced two of the most outstanding works of scholarship in his field.

Life and works

Colvin is most notably the author of "A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840" which appeared in its original form in 1954. Yale University Press produced a third edition in 1995, and he had virtually completed his work on the fourth edition at the time of his death. On first publication this reference work of heroic scale immediately became the standard in its field: it "changed the face of English architectural history", according to David Watkin. In the revised edition Colvin expanded the range to include Scottish and Welsh architects as well. The work includes every building within its time range with which the name of an architect can be associated, based on extensive archival research, resulting in an index that is an architectural gazetteer, and which also gives a comprehensive listing of architectural books published in Britain, listed by author. The prefatory essay, "The Practice of Architecture, 1600-1840", is divided into two sections, covering the building trades and the architectural profession, both contributions to the broader social history of Britain.

Colvin also edited and largely wrote a multi-volume study of architectural projects, both planned and executed, that were created for the British monarchy, "The History of the King's Works".

Born in Sidcup, he was educated at University College London. He went to the University of Oxford in 1948, where he was a Fellow of St. John's, to pursue his research, primarily on medieval architectural topics. He was a member of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England 1963-76, the Historic Buildings Council for England 1970-84, the Royal Fine Art Commission 1962-72, and other official bodies. He was knighted in 1995. He served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain 1979-81 and a special issue of their journal "Architectural History" was produced in his honour in 1984. He married his wife Christina in 1943 and they had two sons.


The History of the King's Works

* London : H.M.S.O, (1963) to (1982)
* ISBN 0-11-670571-X
* ISBN 0-11-670568-X (v.3,pt 1)
* ISBN 0-11-670832-8 (v.4,pt 2)
* ISBN 0-11-670571-X (v.5)
* ISBN 0-11-670286-9 (v.6)
* ISBN 0-11-671116-7 (Plans 5-7)

Other works

* "A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840" ISBN 0-300-06091-2, Yale University Press (3rd edition 1995)
* "Unbuilt Oxford" ISBN 0-300-03126-2, Yale University Press (1983)
* "The Canterbury Quadrangle, St. John's College, Oxford" ISBN 978-0-19-920159-4 or ISBN 0-19-920159-5 (1988)
* "Architecture and the After-Life" New Haven: Yale University Press, (1991)

External links

* [ Alumni of History Faculty Newsletter, Oxford]
* [,,2240770,00.html Obituary in "The Guardian"]
* [ Obituary in "The Times"]
* [ Obituary in "The Daily Telegraph"]


*cite news|title=Sir Howard Colvin|work=The Times|date=2008-01-01|url=|accessdate=2008-01-02

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