Mary Evans 1936-2010

Along with her husband Hilary, Mary founded the Library in 1964. By this time Mary and Hilary were already avid collectors of old books, pictures and ephemera covering a wide range of subjects. While showing off their collection to a friend one day, it was suggested that they might turn their hobby into a business, and so the Mary Evans Picture Library was born.

Over the ensuing 50 years it has grown relentlessly, not only because of Mary and Hilary's continuing passion for collecting and eye for an image, but also thanks to Mary's business acumen. Today it is recognised as one of the leading sources of historical imagery for editorial and commercial use, with clients all over the world.

Mary was also instrumental in the foundation of BAPLA (the British Association of Picture Libraries and Archives) and in the setting up of the Picture Research Association. In 2007 she was the recipient of BAPLA's Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding achievement and her lifelong contribution to the industry.

The citation said, "A founder member of BAPLA in 1975, Mary has worked tirelessly for the good of the industry, picture researchers, and the preservation of cultural heritage for more than fifty years".

As well as the Library, Mary had several other passions. She was a devout dog person: never going anywhere without her dogs, who were ever-present in the Library. In 2003, she was delighted to be able to acquire the celebrated Thomas Fall Archive of historic dog images which have proved immensely popular with publishers. She was also a great collector of children's books, images from which now form a staple of the Library's collection.

Mary was also a music student, a watercolour painter, and, with the Library moving to premises in Blackheath Village where it remains, became a strong supporter of community initiatives in and around Blackheath.

Over the last decade or so, as the picture library industry went through a period of rapid change, Mary was determined that the Library remain an independent and family-owned business, and an employer of local people. She gave a guarded welcome to innovations in technology (whatever happened to microfiche?) but embraced changing technologies which have enabled the library to meet a worldwide clientele and do so more speedily and effectively.

Even after her diagnosis with Alzheimer's she visited the library on a daily basis and continued to take a keen interest in developments both in the Library and in the industry as a whole. In 2013, her achievements were recognised by her inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.