Simon Collier (6 June 1938–20 February 2003)
Simon was the eldest of seven children, born in Harpenden, Hertfordshire (England), he inherited his father's passion for history and literature, and his mother's for music. He played the piano by ear, and entertained his family with popular hit songs. He went to Bedford school and, after national service in the RAF, read history to postgraduate level at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he led the Hourglass debating group.
Simon emerged from Cambridge University in the 1960s to establish Latin American studies in British universities. His first book was a history of Chilean independence, while his last was on the making of the Chilean republic in the 19th century.
He taught history at Essex University (1965-91), during which time he had four spells as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin. After the 1973 coup in Chile, he took an active role in helping refugees there. In 1991, he become director of the centre for Latin American and Iberian studies, and chairman of the history department, at Vanderbilt University, Nashville - where was also professor of Chilean political history.
He was the author of numerous books and articles on Latin American history, including Chile: The Making of a Republic, 1830-1865 (Cambridge, 2003) and co-edited the Cambridge Encyclopaedia Of Latin America And The Caribbean (1985) with with Harold Blackmore (1930-1991) and Thomas E. Skidmore (). He also produced biographies - Piazzolla, he wrote with his Argentinian colleague María Susana Azzi.
Another great passion of Simon's, the Argentinian tango, which inspired works such as The Life, The Music And Times Of Carlos Gardel (1986) - the first English biography of this Buenos Aires singer, Tango!: The Dance, the Song, the Story (1997) and his biography of composer Astor Piazzolla (2000).
Simon who died aged 64 and was survived by his six brothers and sisters, had achieved honours that included the Order of Andrés Bello from the republic of Venezuela and in 2000, was made a knight commander of Chile's Order of Bernardo O'Higgins.