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|Hilary Evans 1929-2011|
Hilary, who along with his wife, Mary, founded the library in 1964, died in July 2011. Not only was he one of the kindest, wisest and most self-effacing people you could wish to meet, he was also relentlessly cheerful; always engaging with life with energy and enthusiasm.
Hilary was working as an advertising copywriter when he met Mary, who was seven years his junior. They shared a love of art, books and collecting; it was only natural that within a few years of their marriage in 1956, they would turn their shared passion into a successful business. Hilary remained Acquisitions Director at the library until his death, and continued to take a lively interest. He is probably responsible for the captioning and keywording of more pictures than all the other staff of the library combined. When he wasn't indulging his other passion, for writing, he was always the first to arrive and the last to leave, rarely putting in less than a twelve hour day, with lunch taken at his desk.
Like Mary, Hilary was a key player in the evolution of the UK picture industry. Together they helped found the UK trade association, BAPLA, and they were also involved in the establishment of the Picture Research Association. Another towering achievement was his work in compiling and editing the Picture Researcher's Handbook through eight successful editions, a task that would have been impossible without his remarkable self-discipline and attention to detail.
As well as his calmness and professionalism, his enduring legacy here at the library is the mountain of material he acquired that we haven't yet been able to caption, keyword and scan. Every 'new' picture added to our website that was sourced by Hilary will remind us of him, and his remarkable talent for finding pictures that enhance our collection and thus the service we are able to offer our clients.
As a writer Hilary was similarly prolific, and his subject matter remarkably diverse. While his principal interest was in the paranormal, he also wrote novels, and a number of historical books illustrated with pictures from the library.
But it is in the field of paranormal studies that Hilary's legacy will, perhaps, be the greatest. As Dr David Clarke wrote in his obituary, "he was a towering intellectual presence in a field bedevilled by sensationalism and controversy." And as Clas Svahn says, "his contributions to UFOlogy are immense. His books should be required reading for everyone who thinks that they know the answer to the UFO enigma."
Hilary helped to co-found the Association for the Study of Anomalous Phenomena in 1981. He travelled widely lecturing on the subject of UFOs. His book, Seeing Ghosts: Experiences of the Paranormal (for which he preferred his own original title, The Ghost Experience) was very well received. He was coordinator of the Street Lamp Interference Project, an initiative that led to the publication of another fascinating book, Sliders. Among his greatest achievements though, must be counted Outbreak: the Encyclopaedia of Extraordinary Social Behaviour, which he co-authored with Robert Bartholomew.
The immediate reaction to news of his death on the internet, a medium which he quickly embraced and used to its full potential, reminds us of the high regard in which he was held, both here in the UK, and around the world. Here at the library, which he and Mary founded nearly half a century ago, we shall miss him very much.