Ronald Philip Dore was born in Bournemouth, Dorset on 1 February 1925. His father worked as a cleaner, Fireman (steam engine) and later a driver for Southern Railway. Dore attended Poole Grammar School. Dore began to learn Japanese in 1942 as part of an 18-month Board of Education initiative to train sixth form boys in languages critical to the war effort. He was one of thirty students who were enrolled in its Japanese language programme. Originally, he applied to study Turkish as his first preference, and Chinese as his second, only to find that he had been enrolled in the Japanese course.

Language education on the programme was provided at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), but Dore and the other students resided a few miles away in Dulwich College, leading to the group of students being referred to as the “Dulwich Boys”. Other notable Dulwich Boys included P. G. O’Neill, John McEwan and Sir Peter Parker. Sandy Wilson also attended at the same time as Dore, but did not complete the course. After finishing the course, Dore injured his knee during basic training and was invalided out of his army posting[6]. Due to a shortage of teachers, he arrived back at SOAS to teach Japanese to servicemen. Notable pupils of Dore at SOAS included Hugh Cortazzi. Dore finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Japanese at SOAS in 1947.[8] His first trip to Japan was in 1950, arriving in Kobe.

Portraits made in his home on the Emilian hills in Italy, in 2014