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Lankester is the son of Preb. Robin Prior Archibald Lankester and Jean Dorothy Gilliat. He was educated at Monkton Combe School in Somerset. After undertaking Voluntary Service Overseas in British Honduras (1960–61), he went up to St John's College, Cambridge (BA Economics, MA, Honorary Fellow), before completing an MA at Yale University.
He worked for the World Bank, first in Washington, D.C., then in New Delhi (1970–73). From 1973 until 1995, he worked in the British Civil Service. He was Permanent Secretary at the Overseas Development Administration from 1989 until 1994. He left the British Civil Service after a brief spell in the Department for Education.
He was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in 1994.
Lankester is the Chair of the Wells Maltings Trust, Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk.
- Lankester, T. (2013). The politics and economics of Britain's foreign aid: the Pergau Dam affair. London, Routledge.
- Lankester, T. (2005). International Aid Experience, prospects and the moral case. Cultura. 2, 131-153.
- Lankester, T. (2004). 'Asian drama': the pursuit of modernisation in India and Indonesia. Asian Affairs. 35, 291-304.
- Lankester, T. (1993). Twenty five years of development: a perspective from the Overseas development administration. Norwich, University of East Anglia. School of Development Studies.
- "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 15 April 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2014.
Sir Tim Lankester, President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 2001–09, 69
- "Corpus Christi College Oxford - News & Events". www.ccc.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 2237. ISBN 978-0-9711966-2-9.
- "Patron & Trustees - MBI Al Jaber Foundation". mbifoundation.com. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- "Sir Tim Lankester appointed director of the School of Oriental and African Studies". Times Higher Education (THE). 10 November 1995. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- "SOAS Honorary Felows: Sir Tim Lankester, KCB". www.soas.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Shaw, Steve. "Trust overseeing Maltings redevelopment appoints new chair for crucial launch year". Fakenham and Wells Times. Retrieved 17 May 2019.
- Lankester, Tim (17 May 2019). The politics and economics of Britain's foreign aid: the Pergau Dam affair. Routledge. OCLC 767569351.
- Lankester, Tim (17 May 2019). "International Aid Experience, prospects and the moral case". Cultura. 2 (2): 131–153. doi:10.5840/cultura20052211. OCLC 5145753412.
- Lankester, Tim (17 May 2019). "'Asian drama': the pursuit of modernisation in India and Indonesia". Asian Affairs. 35 (3): 291–304. OCLC 773804178.
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