After service in the RAF and post-war work in Germany, where he also attended Goettingen university, Richard graduated from Oxford, did doctoral research and was posted by the FO to the British embassy in Moscow, joining what was called the Secretariat. Invited back to Oxford, he became a don and spent ten years there as tutor and lecturer before being offered a professorship at UCLA. This was followed by a professorship at Manchester University and finally appointment to the chair of Russian literature at London (SSEES). In the course of his career he has interpreted for many major figures, including prime ministers and members of the Supreme Soviet, and travelled fairly widely in the Soviet Union in the immediate post-Stalin period, although in later decades he found he was persona non grata and not granted visas. He married his wife Anne, an embassy colleague while in Moscow, and they have four children and seven grandchildren.