If there was anyone who knew all the quant and crisscrossing lanes and bylanes of Delhi like the back of his hand, it was historian and columnist Ronald Vivian Smith. Known lovingly as RV, the noted chronicler passed away on Thursday morning, April 30, at his home in Delhi at the age of 81.
The former News Editor for The Statesman, RV started writing for newspapers over half a century ago in 1956. Since then, the historian has worked with several news organisations such as the Press Trust of India.A descendent of Col Salvador Smith (1783-1871) of the Gwalior Army, RV was born in 1938 in Agra. A doyen of information when it came to hidden bits of trivia regarding the hundreds of historical monuments and ruins, graveyards, and galis spread across Delhi, he often wrote columns for leading publications, magazines, and websites.
RV has written dozens of books including a romantic novel, a book of ghost stories, and several books on Delhi itself. The man was known for his love for antiquity, the occult, and also Mughlai cuisine.
His demise brought forth an outpouring of grief on social media with even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal commemorating the loss of the award-winning academic. "His work kept alive the stories and memories of our city. It's a huge loss especially for Delhiites," the CM tweeted.
RV Smith, the chronicler of our great city Delhi passed away this morning. His work kept alive the stories and memories of our city. It's a huge loss especially for Delhiites. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. RIP— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 30, 2020
Other fans, colleagues and readers also expressed their condolences on Twitter.
One of Delhi's greatest chroniclers, R V Smith, passed away today morning. His Monday columns for The Hindu, and Thursdays for The Statesman, were always so insightful and informed you something new of the city. Very sad to hear of his passing pic.twitter.com/vdG38jsPMK— نکھل کمار Nikhil Kumar (@niksez) April 30, 2020
He loved the company of kind, beautiful women, especially when they happened to be writers... writer Sadia Dehlvi and writer Rakhshanda Jalil with Delhi chronicler RV Smith, who died this morning... captured this memory a couple of seasons ago... somewhere in Delhi pic.twitter.com/zme7zNujV5— mayank austen soofi (@thedelhiwalla) April 30, 2020
Few have chronicled & loved Delhi like RV Smith. His work changed the way I see my city, and for that I'm indebted to him. Master storyteller, his eyes shone brightly while talking about his two fav cities: Delhi & Agra. Rest in peace, Smith sir. I'll miss you very much. pic.twitter.com/DawxBhLO3N— Somya Lakhani (@somyalakhani) April 30, 2020
“And his work involves attendance at night”—chronicler RV Smith’s I-card during his days and nights as a city reporter for Statesmen newspaper in the 1970s... Mr Smith died today... he kindly gifted me this precious Delhi souvenir some years ago... these are his hands by the way! pic.twitter.com/y8cJs2Mdey— mayank austen soofi (@thedelhiwalla) April 30, 2020
I took this picture of great writer and historian RV Smith outside his apartment in Delhi. I had the fortune to spend a beautiful afternoon with him on his birthday. #RIPRVSmith pic.twitter.com/bDXhDden5C— Sameer Khan (@SamKhan999) April 30, 2020
Very sad to know of the passing away of R V Smith, one of the foremost chroniclers of Delhi. Wrote regular columns for different papers on the city and did several popular books on Delhi. #RVSmith— S lrfan Habib (@irfhabib) April 30, 2020
Preparing for CLAT, reading The Hindu was my routine and this man's columns were always a joy to go through, so insightful and easy to comprehend, deeply saddened by his passing away.R.I.P. RV Smith Sir 😔❤ pic.twitter.com/cYgxQYsQgT— Politcally correct username (@SircasticIndian) April 30, 2020
During his lifetime, RV received many awards including the Michael Madhusudan Academy award fro journalism in 1997-98, the Canon Holland Prize as well as the Rotary Award.