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Papers of Hilary Walton relating to Barbara Pym


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The collection comprises: A. scrapbooks and reviews; B. correspondence (in folders labelled 'Literary General'); C. correspondence (relating to the death of Barbara Pym and her memorials in Finstock Church); D. printed articles and biographical information (including theses); E. posthumous dramatisations and publications of Barbara Pym's work; F. personal papers of Hilary Walton and Barbara Pym; and G. photographs.


  • Creation: 1920-2008


3.45 Linear metres (23 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 5994/1].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 5994/1-21; MSS. 5994 Photogr. 1-2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 5994


Papers of Hilary Crampton Walton née Pym (1916-2004) relating to her sister, the novelist Barbara Pym (1913-1980), c.1920-2008.

Biographical / Historical

Hilary Crampton Walton, née Pym, was born in Oswestry in 1916, the second daughter of Frederic Crampton Pym (1879–1966), solicitor, and his wife, Irena Spenser, née Thomas (1886–1945). Like her elder sister, the novelist Barbara Pym (1913-1980), Hilary attended The Liverpool College for Girls, Huyton [later Huyton College, Liverpool]. Hilary also followed Barbara to Oxford and studied Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford.

After Oxford, Hilary took a secretarial course in London and began work for the BBC in 1938: the sisters lodged together in London. In 1940, Hilary was transferrred with the BBC to Bristol and was joined in 1941 by Barbara. They lived at The Coppice, along with Honor Wyatt, her children, and one other family.

On 26th August 1942, Hilary married Alexander Crawford Wellesley Walton (known as Sandy). In 1944, Hilary joined the BBC's Gramophone Department and lived in London whilst her husband was abroad with the RAF. In 1946, after Sandy had returned to England, the couple decided to separate and officially divorced in 1949.

After separating from Sandy, Hilary lived in London with Barbara. She retired from the BBC in 1971 and the following year bought Barn Cottage, Finstock near Oxford. Barbara died in 1980 and Hilary became a careful custodian of Barbara's memory, ensuring that interest in her works continued. Hilary died in 2004.

For a full biography of Barbara Pym, see The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


The arrangement of these papers attempts to reflect the original ordering of the material. Original envelopes and folders [apart from descriptive labels] and duplicates have not been retained. For preservation purposes, loose newspaper cuttings have been discarded or photocopied [scrapbooks excepted].

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bequeathed by Hilary Walton to the Bodleian Library, 2004.

Related Materials

Bodleian Libraries

  1. MSS. Pym 1-178 - Archive of Barbara Mary Crampton Pym, 1913-1980.
  2. MS. Eng. c. 5230 fols. 61-78 - Letters from Barbara Pym to Harold Gunn, 1953-1978.
  3. MSS. Eng. lett. c. 859-860 - Letters from Barbara Pym to Philip Larkin, 1961-1979.


  • Hazel Holt and Hilary Pym (eds), A Very Private Eye : the diaries, letters and notebooks of Barbara Pym (London, 1984).
  • Hazel Holt, A Lot to Ask: A Life of Barbara Pym (London, 1990).
Catalogue of Papers of Hilary Walton relating to Barbara Pym
Finding aid prepared by Rachael Marsay
Language of description
Script of description
Catalogued with the generous support of the Roy Davids bequest

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom