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Downs, Brian Westerdale, 1893-1984 (literary scholar, translator and college head)



Brian Westerdale Downs (1893-1984), literary scholar, translator and Master of Christ's 1950-63, was born on 4 July 1893 at 5 Beech Grove, Beverley Road, Newland, Kingston upon Hull. After attending Abbotsholme School, he went up to Christ's College, Cambridge, in 1912, and graduated with first-class honours in modern and medieval languages (German and Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon) in 1915. In 1918 he was made a college lecturer in English and modern languages, and in 1919 a college fellow. In 1921 with H. Latimer Jackson published a Manual of the Dutch Language and his next publication was Cambridge Past and Present (1926). In 1950 he was appointed master of Christ's College, a position he held until his retirement in 1963, and in the same year he was appointed as the first professor of Scandinavian studies. From 1955 to 1957 Downs served as vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge. He lived after his retirement in 20 Marlborough Court, Grange Road, Cambridge, but died in the Hope Nursing Home, Cambridge, of bronchopneumonia and diabetes mellitus, on 3 March 1984.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:


Brian Westerdale Downs: Letter to Charles Sayle, 1915

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.4251/384
Scope and Contents From the Fonds:

Artificial collection of single item or small collection accessions. Mainly correspondence but includes other papers.

Dates: 1915
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Fellows' Papers

Reference Code: GBR/1849/FP
Dates: translation missing: en.enumerations.date_label.Accumulation: Majority of material found within 1550 - 2020

Additional filters:

ARCHON code (for CUL materials)
Archives and MSS Dept. (GBR/0012) 1
Archival Object 1
Collection 1