George Richardson obituary

Oxford academic who transformed the Oxford University Press and laid the foundations for subsequent growth

My friend George Richardson, who has died aged 94, spent most of his working life at Oxford University, including as chief executive of Oxford University Press (OUP) from the mid-1970s to the late 80s.

He was born in Cricklewood, north London, to Christina, a homemaker, and George, a businessman. After Banff grammar and Aberdeen central schools he studied mathematics and physics at Aberdeen University before heading south to the Admiralty’s scientific research department in London, for which he worked during the second world war.

After the war he went to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, to study for a second degree, in philosophy, politics and economics, then after a short stint at the Foreign Office was elected fellow of St John’s College, Oxford. As a tutor he was ebullient and popular, and in college affairs he was always a champion of reform.

He became chief executive of the OUP in 1974. It was transformed under his leadership, enabling it to withstand the economic pressures of the time.

On retirement from the OUP in 1988 George became warden of Keble College, Oxford, just as it was entering a more ambitious phase. He quickly created a harmonious governing body for the college and laid the foundations for its progress.

In later life George was a frequent diner at various Oxford colleges with people of all ages; all were treated with the utmost courtesy. He was a man with generosity of spirit as well as sympathy, wit, charm and kindness – and great intellectual and cultural range.

George’s marriage to Isabel Chalk ended in divorce in the early 1990s. He is survived by their two sons, Graham and Andrew, and four grandchildren.

Maggie Snowling

The GuardianTramp

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