Robert Latham was born 11 March 1912 and was educated at Wolstanton Grammar School, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Queen’s College, Cambridge where he received a double first in History. In 1935 he was appointed an Assistant Lecturer at King’s College, London and a Lecturer in 1939. After the war he was promoted to Reader in History (1947 – 1972) and Dean of Men at Royal Holloway College. In 1968-69 he was Professor of History at the University of Toronto. In 1970 he moved to Magdalene College Cambridge initially as Research Fellow, and then from 1972 as Pepys Librarian and to 1984 as a Fellow of the College. From 1984 to 1994 he was an Honorary Fellow. As Pepys Librarian he had charge of the remarkable collection of books, prints and manuscripts which Pepys left to his old College. He devoted the best part of his life to the study of the diary, and to producing the definitive edition of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. He was awarded the CBE in 1973, and was fellow of the British Academy in 1982He died at Cambridge on 4 January 1995.
This work – The Diary of Samuel Pepys: A New and Complete Transcription – was published over the period 1970 – 83. It was described in The Times by Bernard Levin as “the absolutely complete and un-improvably definitive edition … so exceptional that it can be said to have set new standards of scholarship. The index to the Diary series, completed with his wife, is a full volume itself, made up of about 900 pages.
His published works include
• The Illustrated Pepys (Bell & Hyman, 1978).
• With William Matthews The Diary of Samuel Pepys, G Bell, 1970 – 1983.
• Pepys: Extracts From The Diary (Bell & Hyman, 1983).
• The Shorter Pepys (Bell & Hyman, 1985).
• A Pepys Anthology (Unwin Hyman, 1987).
• Samuel Pepys and the Second Dutch War (Navy Records Society, 1995).
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