A life of Chinese and puzzles

Observations on Raymond Dawson

Raymond Dawson, the New Statesman's crossword editor, has died at the age of 79. Starting in 1952, under the name of Setsquare, he produced puzzles for the NS at first once a week, and later at least once a month. He took great pride earlier this year in achieving a half-century of setting crosswords for the paper. To mark the occasion, we reprinted his first four puzzles.

He was courteous, considerate and never late with his copy. From Emanuel School (based in London, but evacuated to Hampshire during the war), he went up to Wadham College, Oxford, in 1941. He interrupted his studies to join the RAF, training in South Africa as a navigator, and flew missions; then, during the final months of the war, he found himself on a Japanese course.

After returning to Oxford, he graduated in Greats in 1947, but returned to read Chinese - as part of a scheme specially funded to create a group of future Asian language teachers. He took a First in this subject in 1950, and then moved to Durham University, where he helped to establish Chinese studies and, in 1958, launched an honours course.

In 1961, Raymond Dawson returned to Oxford, becoming a fellow of Wadham College in 1963. His books included The Chinese Chameleon: an analysis of European conceptions of Chinese civilisation (1967); Confucius (1981) for the Oxford University Press Past Masters series; and Introduction to Classical Chinese, first published in 1968, but much reprinted.

Jill Chisholm is NS production editor

This article first appeared in the 02 December 2002 issue of the New Statesman, Alone they stand, against a dominant PM