Dan Davin (1913-1990) was a scholar, soldier, writer and publisher. Born in New Zealand, he came to England as a Rhodes Scholar. In the Second World War he fought with the New Zealand expeditionary force, writing as a result the highly regarded Crete volume in the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War.
Much of his post-war life was devoted to the Oxford University Press where he ended up as deputy secretary and academic publisher. It has been nicely said of him that he had ‘an uncommon gift for enjoying his own aversions – parties, dining out, travel, committees, formal social occasions, other people’s problems. No man who longed so much for the quiet of his own fireside has been so often out.’
In this busy life he still managed to write seven novels as well as collections of short stories. The best of his Second World War stories were gathered in The Salamander and The Fire, which along with Closing Times, is being reissued in Faber Finds.