"He received the first part of his education in New Zealand, at Wellington College and Christ’s College, and his obvious early gifts — indeed brilliance — were then rewarded with a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. The rest of his life, apart from professional travelling, was to be based in England. In 1936 he was appointed to the Foreign Office and his first foreign appointment found him sent... to the British Embassy in Warsaw. His next posting was to Ankara for four years, then to Teheran. After that he held senior posts in the Foreign Office — in the British delegation to the United Nations in New York for three years and as Deputy Director of Research for nine. All the time his extraordinary knowledge of languages was growing, until, in his later years and in what was laughingly known as retirement, he became a full-time translator and editor. As such, he quickly became a legend among his colleagues, unmatched in the range and variety of his linguistic skills and in the high quality of his translations into English. ... He twice won the Scott Moncrieff prize for the year’s best translation from French into English, and once the Schlegel-Tieck, for the best from German into English. Had there been other prizes for other languages in his heyday as a translator he would no doubt have won them, for he also translated from Russian, Polish, Dutch and what he modestly called 'other languages'. In all, he published about fifty books. Perhaps his most important work was the Oxford English-Russian Dictionary (1984) which he edited."
He was married to Elizabeth Falla.