King's College Fellow and Persian scholar Peter Avery OBE, who died on 6 October, was one of the world's foremost experts on the history and literature of Iran.

Peter Avery's lifelong interest in Persian poetry began when he was introduced to a translation of the poems of Omar Kayyam as a child.

His undergraduate education, at the University of Liverpool, was interrupted by World War II, in which he served in the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve. It was here that he began to learn Persian.

Upon demobilisation in 1946, he entered the School of Oriental and African Studies to read Arabic and Persian, graduating in 1949 to work initially, until 1951, as Educational Liaison Officer with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

After further employment in Iraq and Iran, in 1958 Peter Avery became a University Lecturer in Persian Language, Literature and History at Cambridge. In 1964 he was elected Fellow of King's College.

Upon his retirement in 1990 he became a Life Fellow of King's College. In 2001 "for the Promotion of Oriental Studies" he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Peter Avery's publications include translations of the Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam, of 'Attar's Mantiq al-tayr and of the poems of Hafiz, as well as Modern Iran, published in 1965.

He served on the Editorial Board of the definitive, multi-volume Cambridge History of Iran, and edited the final volume, "From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic", published in 1991.

King's College Provost Ross Harrison said, 'Peter's death means the passing of a unique and utterly distinctive aspect of life at King's.'

Professor Charles Melville, Fellow and Director of Oriental Studies at Pembroke College said last night: "Peter Avery taught Persian language and literature to generations of students, but more than that he imbued them with a love of the subject and communicated his own enthusiasm for it. For many Iranians too, Peter Avery 'was' Cambridge and his rooms in King's College were a corner of Iran."

His Excellency Mr Rasoul Movahedian, Ambassador, Islamic Republic of Iran, visited Peter in his rooms at King's recently (pictured). Yesterday he paid tribute to the late scholar:  “His endeavour in introducing Iranian civilization, culture and literature to British public and scholars in the last half century and his constructive role in creating a better understanding between our two nations has been unique and praiseworthy.

"Hereby, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences on the occasion of his demise to all his colleagues and friends."

The funeral service will be held in King's College Chapel on Friday 24 October, beginning at 12 noon.

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