John Davy (journalist)

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John Davy (8 August 1927 – 28 October 1984) was a British journalist and science editor for The Observer , lecturer, vice-principal of Emerson College and Anthroposophist. [1]

Journalist person who collects, writes and distributes news and other information

A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist's work is called journalism. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues. However, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists, produce journals that span many topics. For example, a sports journalist covers news within the world of sports, but this journalist may be a part of a newspaper that covers many different topics.

<i>The Observer</i> weekly British newspaper, published on Sundays

The Observer is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum as its sister papers The Guardian and The Guardian Weekly, whose parent company Guardian Media Group Limited acquired it in 1993, it takes a social liberal or social democratic line on most issues. First published in 1791, it is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper.

Lecturer tenure-track or tenured position at a university or similar institution

Lecturer is an academic rank within many universities, though the meaning of the term varies somewhat from country to country. It generally denotes an academic expert who is hired to teach on a full- or part-time basis. They may also conduct research.



Early life

John Davy was born to the journalist couple Charles and Doris Davy in London. He had a younger brother who, like he did, became a journalist. From the early 1930s onwards, both parents were intimately connected to the work of Anthroposophy. Charles Davy wrote a number of books, amongst others The Three Spheres of Society (1946) on Social threefolding, while Doris Davy wrote travelogues and children’s books. Her main interest, however, was in biodynamic farming and she edited the journal of the BD movement, "Star and Furrow", for many years.

Social threefolding

Social threefolding is a sociological theory suggesting the progressive independence of society's economic, political and cultural institutions. It aims to foster:

The two boys attended Abbotsholme School in N. England, strongly influenced by the pedagogical ideas of Kurt Hahn but John asked to spend his last year of schooling at Michael Hall, in Forest Row. Here he was taught by Cecil Harwood and Francis Edmunds, both of whom remained connected with him in his anthroposophical work for the rest of his life.

Abbotsholme School is a co-educational independent boarding and day school. The school is situated on a 140-acre campus on the banks of the River Dove in Derbyshire, England near the county border and the village of Rocester in Staffordshire. It is a member of the SHHIS and is a Round Square school.

Kurt Hahn German educator

Kurt Matthias Robert Martin Hahn CBE was a German educator. He founded Schule Schloss Salem, Gordonstoun, Outward Bound and the United World Colleges.

Michael Hall is an independent Steiner Waldorf school in Kidbrooke Park on the edge of Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Founded in 1925, it is the oldest Steiner school in Britain, it has an enrolment of over 500 students aged between three (Kindergarten) and eighteen.

His military service he spent in Vienna as a member of the Intelligence Corps from 1945 – 1947, where his main task was the interrogation of refugees. He studied at Cambridge University and immediately thereafter met his future German wife, Gudrun zur Linden, whom he followed to Germany in order to learn German. He worked there as woodsman, taught English at the Waldorf School in Stuttgart and finally obtained a scholarship to study for a year at the University of Freiburg.

Vienna Capital city and state of Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom)

The Intelligence Corps is a corps of the British Army. It is responsible for gathering, analysing and disseminating military intelligence and also for counter-intelligence and security. The Director of the Intelligence Corps is a brigadier.

Stuttgart Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Stuttgart is the capital and largest city of the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Stuttgart is located on the Neckar river in a fertile valley known locally as the "Stuttgart Cauldron". It lies an hour from the Swabian Jura and the Black Forest. Its urban area has a population of 609,219, making it the sixth largest city in Germany. 2.7 million people live in the city's administrative region and 5.3 million people in its metropolitan area, making it the fourth largest metropolitan area in Germany. The city and metropolitan area are consistently ranked among the top 20 European metropolitan areas by GDP; Mercer listed Stuttgart as 21st on its 2015 list of cities by quality of living, innovation agency 2thinknow ranked the city 24th globally out of 442 cities and the Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked the city as a Beta-status world city in their 2014 survey.

Science correspondent

Quite unexpectedly, he received an offer from The Observer in London to act as their first science editor, at that time still a respected newspaper which, under the chief editorship of David Astor, showed great openness to new socio-political, scientific and ecological ideas. It was Davy’s task to follow up on the new developments in science in the 1950s. He accepted, married and moved to Forest Row in Sussex, commuting to London on a daily basis.

The Hon. Francis David Langhorne Astor CH was an English newspaper publisher and member of the Astor family.

Sussex historic county in South East England

Sussex, from the Old English Sūþsēaxe, is a historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded to the west by Hampshire, north by Surrey, northeast by Kent, south by the English Channel, and divided for many purposes into the ceremonial counties of West Sussex and East Sussex. Brighton and Hove, though part of East Sussex, was made a unitary authority in 1997, and as such, is administered independently of the rest of East Sussex. Brighton and Hove was granted City status in 2000. Until then, Chichester was Sussex's only city.

His duties entailed reporting on the newest scientific developments of the time: the computer, the beginnings of space travel, on latest developments in psychological theory, the discovery of the structure of DNA and much more. Through his 16 years with The Observer Davy came to know personally most of the great inventors and discoverers of his time. In acknowledgement for his achievements he received the Order of the British Empire, having contributed greatly to the international recognition of figures like Rachel Carson ( Silent Spring ), E.F. Schumacher ( Small is Beautiful ), Ivan Illich ( Deschooling Society ) and others, drawing attention to many of the dangerous developments of modern civilisation.

DNA Molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known organisms and many viruses

Deoxyribonucleic acid is a molecule composed of two chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying genetic instructions for the development, functioning, growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses. DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids; alongside proteins, lipids and complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides), nucleic acids are one of the four major types of macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Rachel Carson American marine biologist and conservationist

Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

In the course of these years, John Davy was often requested to hold lectures and write articles relating to the Anthroposophical work. For professional reasons, he published this work under the pseudonym "John Waterman", adopting the pen name of his father "Charles Waterman".

Emerson College

In 1962 Francis Edmunds had founded Emerson College in Forest Row, in pursuit of an ideal to bring young people from all over the world together, enabling them to receive a comprehensive training in thought, art and handcrafts on an anthroposophical basis. From the start he had wanted to include John Davy as his co-worker in the project, a position Davy accepted in 1969.

He became assistant-director of the college, with the primary responsibility for development and course of the Foundation Year. His particular fields were the development of scientific method and viewpoint; its strengths and limitations; their relationship to other means of perception, in particular to the work of the artist and thirdly, methods of working together in groups with the aim of deepening our phenomenological understanding of nature.

Besides directing the work of the College, he had become increasingly engaged in the work of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain. For many years he had worked together with Cecil Harwood and other British anthroposophists to re-unify the General Anthroposophical Society, from which the British Society had separated in 1935. This was finally achieved in 1963. After Harwood’s death his responsibilities within the leadership of the Society increased greatly. Besides this, he was invited on a large number of lecture tours internationally, particularly to Canada and the USA. Here he paid particular attention to invitations from a large number of universities and other non-anthroposophical institutions where people wanted to hear about Rudolf Steiner, the method and results of his research and its further development.

In April 1984 when he was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and died in October of that year.

Published works

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