Brynhild Olivier

Bryn Olivier

The first picture of Brynhild Olivier on the web

Although I’ve kicked off various articles in Wikipedia including the ones on User-Generated Content (in 2005 when UGC was still quite new and shiny) and on Bryn’s sister Daphne, I’m having a bit of trouble with the Wikinazis with this one so I’ll just stick it here for now and the self-appointed UGC You Next Tuesdays can spend their time on some other self-important pedantry. In the meantime the upside of this article is that I’ve met two charming, very interesting women through it – a novelist and a movie producer, the latter a direct descendant of Bryn.

”’Brynhild Olivier”’ (1887 – 13th January 1935, known as Bryn) was the second daughter of [[Sydney Haldane Olivier]], 1st Baron Olivier, and Margaret Cox; she was sister of Margery (1886-1974), Daphne (1889-1950) and [[Noel Olivier|Noel]] (1893-1969). She was a member of [[Rupert Brooke]]’s circle before the First World War and associated with the [[Bloomsbury Group]]. She was a prominent member of the group of young, socialist youth dubbed ‘the Neo-Pagans’ by [[Virginia Woolf]] and as such significantly influenced the development of Brooke.

She was usually the manager of the Neo-Pagan camps where the circle gathered for outdoor pursuits like climbing, bathing and hiking. Campers included the likes of [[Lytton Strachey]], [[John Maynard Keynes]], [[Geoffrey Keynes]] and [[Gerald Shove]]. The camp at Clifford Bridge in Dartmoor in August 1911 was referred to as ‘Bloomsbury under canvas’.

Although Brooke was in love with herPaul Delany. ”The Neo-Pagans – Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle”. (1987 Macmillan London) p.173., she ended up marrying art historian [[A. E. Popham]] (Arthur Ewart Hugh Popham, known as Hugh) in 1912 (becoming Brynhild Popham). Hugh Popham was a friend of Rupert Brooke and worked in the Prints Department of the British Museum.[ The Papers of Hugh and Brynhild (Olivier) Popham]They were divorced in 1924. She married F. R. N. Sherrard in 1924 (becoming Brynhild Sherrard).[ The Peerage]

She was the mother of Anne Olivier Popham, who became the wife of art historian and writer [[Quentin Bell]]. She was also the mother of the poet, translator and theologian [[Philip Sherrard|Philip Owen Arnould Sherrard]] (born 23 September 1922, Oxford). She had six children in all – three with each husband. Her first child Hugh Anthony was born in March 1914, followed by daughter Anne Olivier and son Tristram.

Brynhild was the first of the four Olivier sisters the poet Rupert Brooke met[ Caesar, Adrian. ”Taking it like a man: suffering, sexuality, and the war poets.”(1993 Manchester University Press) p.25.]. Although she was reputedly the most beautiful, it was her sister Noel Olivier for whom Brooke fell. [[Jacques Raverat]] described her as having ‘the startled beauty of a nymph taken by surprise’.

Brynhild trained as a jeweller. She was first cousin of the actor [[Laurence Olivier]].


==Further reading==
*Delany, Paul. ”The Neo-Pagans – Friendship and Love in the Rupert Brooke Circle.” Macmillan. London. 1987. ISBN 0-333-44572-4 (hc)
*Caesar, Adrian. ”Taking it like a man: suffering, sexuality, and the war poets.” Manchester University Press. Manchester. 1993. ISBN 0-7190-3834-0

==External links==
*[ W.H. Auden – ‘Family Ghosts’]
*[ Papers in the National Archives]


13 comments so far

  1. Practical Psychologist on

    Tangental to this but not entirely unrelated, have you read Nigel Nicholson’s ‘Portrait of a Marriage’?

  2. ArkAngel on

    Not yet but I’d like to. Think I saw a TV dramatisation years ago. Is it a particular favourite of yours?

  3. Practical Psychologist on

    Well, I have an interest in certain aspects of english society from around 1920-1960. Probably from a less ‘artistic’ perspective than you and more from the liberalism that only a very narrow section of English society seemed to enjoy. I have recently enjoyed wading through large amounts of James Lees-Milne whose wife had an affair with Vita Sackville-West. I have Harold Nicholson’s diaries ready for my holiday in Italy next month. I don’t think ‘Portrait’ is as good as people say. It has a degree of shock value in that it catalogued the open marriage between VSW and Harold Nicholson and VSW’s sexual freedom in a way that hadn’t been done before and of course draws in major 20th century figures. The connection between your interest and mine would be Virginia Woolf and The Bloomsbury Set I would think. An interesting project for me later in life would be to write about these liberal attitudes. Of course the release of the 3 million words of Chips Channon still yet to be made public might blow any project of that nature out of the water. His grandson is reputedly going to allow their release before 2018 (the year Chips would allow) but there is a rumour that they are waiting for a member of the royal family to pass on before they can do so. I think we can all probably guess who that might be.

  4. ArkAngel on

    Might it be the fella who hung out in Wheeler’s in Soho with the Profumo girls?

  5. practical psychologist on

    Could be. Or that might have been Jeffrey Bernard.

  6. […] at Solus), Pippa Harris (whose Wiki entry I got rolling after she helped me with the research on this old blog post ) and Nina Gold (who I went to a ball with at uni when she was called Gould) in the Oscar […]

  7. ArkAngel on

    Eight years after I initiated this Wikipedia article it finally took root thanks to the brilliant work of Michael Goodyear

  8. Paul Sherrard on

    Re Brynhild Olivier… if you’re still interested in her, you should read “noble savages, the Olivier sisters” by Sarah Watling. Published 2019.

    • ArkAngel on

      Thanks for the tip, Paul – what’s your interest in the Oliviers?

      • Paul Sherrard on

        I’m related to Brynhild through her second marriage. She’s my grandfather’s cousin’s wife. She met Raymond Sherrard while accompanying her sister Margery at Dr Caesar Sherrard’s “commune” at Tatsfield. He was my great grandfather. She and Raymond fell in love, leading to the messy divorce from Hugh Popham. The rest as they say, is history.

  9. ArkAngel on

    I thought I recognised your surname (from Raymond) but didn’t want to presume/assume. Thanks for the book recommendation – currently reading it.

    • Paul Sherrard on

      I have digitally enhanced that portrait above of Brynhild. It’s really come out very nicely, though I say so myself! Not sure how to upload it on this site. Would you like me to email it to you? I also have an animated version. A bit eerie, but hauntingly beautiful!

      • ArkAngel on

        Have dropped you an email, Paul

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