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Obituary: Michael Davie.

THERE were journalists as harsh as pie-crust, who smoked strong cigarettes, took their whisky neat and could find their way around the underbelly of society with the assurance of a wasp in a bin.

Others swanned to the top in the lounges of gracious living, filling their diaries with the names of important and talented people.

And Michael Davie belonged to that almost extinct species called the "gentlemen of the Press".

Thus, he escorted Groucho Marx to Lord's Cricket ground. During a lull in an otherwise absorbing match, David asked the comedian if he was enjoying it. "Great," came the reply. "When does it start?"

In a sense, Davie was a writer rather than a journalist, but, in common with many of the leading commentators of his generation, he didn't see why they couldn't be one and the same.

In addition to rising to deputy editor of The Observer and editor of the Melbourne Age, Davie wrote books on cricket and the Titanic disaster, biographies of President Johnson and Lord Beaverbrook and edited Evelyn Waugh's Diaries, Born in Cranleigh, Surrey, Davie read English at Merton College, Oxford. After service in the Royal Navy in the war, he returned to Oxford and came to the attention of The Observer. But before being appointed its religious correspondent, he had a spell as a reporter on the Manchester Evening News.

As his career advanced, Davie introduced outstanding writers to The Observer, seeing no reason why a poet such as Alan Ross should not write well on cricket.

Davie himself was an excellent sports writer. His first wife, Robin Atherton, was Australian and he covered the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956 and the England cricket tour in 1958/59.

His great ambition was to write the biography of PG Wodehouse. They met, but the book was not written.

However, legions of top writers were among his friends and colleagues, including Malcolm Muggeridge, Clement Freud and Kenneth Tynan.

He edited the Melbourne Age from 1977 until returning to The Observer in 1988.

Davie married twice and had a three children Michael Davie, writer; born January 15, 1924, died December 7, 2005
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2005
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