Malcolm Deas was born in Charminster, Dorset on 16 May 1941. He attended Bryanston School from the age of 7, and later won a scholarship to Oxford University.
Malcolm graduated in 1962 with a 1st in Modern History from New College. He was a Prize Fellow at All Souls 1962- 66. In 1966, he was appointed as the University Lecturer in the Government and Politics of Latin America together with a Fellowship at St Antony’s. He was a Fellow of the College until his retirement in 2008 and an Emeritus Fellow until his death in 2023. He was one of the original founding staff at the Latin American Centre (LAC), was Director of the LAC on several occasions. He also served as Senior Proctor for Oxford University 1987-88.
Malcolm’s research was chiefly on the 19th and 20th century history of Colombia. He was regarded as a pioneer of Colombian historiography, his work was highly esteemed in Colombia itself for his original contributions on a wide range of topics, including fiscal and agrarian history, the history of civil wars, elections and photography. He leaves behind a prolific academic legacy: a recent bibliography lists over 130 titles, including his book Intercambios violentos, his collections of essays Del poder y la gramática (2019), and two major biographies Vida y opiniones de Mr William Wills (2 volumes, 1996) and Barco (2019).
Malcolm also worked on the history of Argentina, Ecuador and Venezuela and was made a member of the Order of Andrés Bello (Venezuela) and the Orden de Mérito (Ecuador), as well as receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla (Colombia) and was elected a member of the Venezuelan Academy of History.
Malcolm also wrote for more popular publications such as The New Statesman, The Listener, The Spectator and The London Review of Books and some leaders related to Latin America for The Times.
During the early 1990s, Malcolm was an advisor to Colombia’s President Cesar Gaviria helping to design policies to reduce the high levels of violence in the country. For this work, he was awarded Colombia’s highest honour, the Cruz de Boyacá, as well as an OBE from the Queen in 1994. In 2008, he was made a citizen of Colombia.
On his retirement from the University, some of his students established the Malcolm Deas Fund which today awards a wide range of grants to support lectures, workshops, fieldwork and conferences to enhance the intellectual life of the LAC.
Malcolm passed away in his home after a long illness on 29 July 2023.
Lot 611 - Helms (Anthony Zachariah), Travels from Buenos Ayres by Potosi, to Lima, Richard Phillips, London 1807.