John Davey

1945 - 2017

John Davey, a prodigious figure in academic, trade and reference publishing for almost 50 years, died at home with family at his side on April 21, 2017. He had just celebrated his 72 birthday days earlier.

After making his mark in publishing in the 1970s, John joined Blackwell as their first full-time academic editor. During the 1980s he took the company from obscurity to being a major force in the industry. He rapidly became an editorial director, appointed several specialist editors, initiated Blackwell’s reference publishing, acquired and started several new journals, and had responsibility for rights and contracts.

In 1989, John went to Blackwell in the USA where he ran the business for three years, expanded the editorial and production staff, and transformed several years of losses into a profit. His personal contribution to geography publishing was so distinguished that in 1992 he was awarded a certificate of special recognition by the Association of American Geographers and in 1997 the Gill Memorial from the Royal Geographical Society. The field of geography was being radically reconstructed during this time and John was the go-to publisher for a younger generation of scholars. He had a similar impact on urban studies, publishing key works such as David Harvey’s Social Justice and the City and Manuel Castells on The Urban Question. His endeavors in these fields were transformative and remain legendary to this day.

Derek Gregory wrote in his touching tribute to Davey, “[He] was one of those rare publishers who believed passionately that books created their audiences and that geography was so much more than a textbook machine.  He didn’t spurn textbooks, but he had a non-mercenary and thoroughly ambitious sense of what they ought to strive for.”

A man of many talents, John was a keen fly-fisherman, gardener, cook and poker player. He is survived by his wife, four children from two marriages, and five grandchildren.