In memoriam Peter Avery, OBE

I’m passing along a link to an obituary in the Times of London for Peter Avery, OBE, who was one of George and my acquaintances in Cambridge at King’s College. He was a very noted scholar on Iranian/Persian literature and culture.  He was a cantankerous and a larger-than-life character, and you can get a sense of it from his obit.  But he was also inspiring to generations of students.  One of my lasting life memories was of a very hot summer evening in 2003 in his rooms in the Gibb Building at King’s College, Cambridge, right next door to the entrance to the King’s College Chapel.  Peter chain-smoked through the evening (thank God the window was open!), and George and I and our friend Dan Gross had been instructed to meet him at an appointed hour and to take several bottles of wine with us. Over the course of the next 4 hours Peter Avery regaled us with stories, quizzed us on our knowledge of many topics from ancient mythology to current events, showed us the video of his investiture when he received the OBE from QE II.  It was one of the most intimidating and intellectually stimulating evenings I have ever spent–all the while drinking our way through the 3 bottles we had brought, plus two more that he already had on hand.  (All this on no dinner.)  We were his pupils for the evening, and it is easy to see how he became a mentor for his  many students and Iranian visitors.  His rooms were the stereotype of the English academic, with bookcases full of Arabic and Persian books from floor to ceiling.  At several points in the evening he would say to one or another of us, “Get that book down from the shelf over there” and he would read something to us.

I cannot say in any way that I knew him well, but sometimes people make an indelible impression, and Peter Avery was one of those.

Heres the link:

Lifting a glass to the memory of Peter Avery…

One thought on “In memoriam Peter Avery, OBE

  1. I saw Avery’s obit in the Guardian and found it fascinating. I remember you telling me about visiting him in Oxford, but didn’t put two and two together when I read the obit.

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