Queer Places:
Winchester College, College St, Winchester SO23 9NA
University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
3 Sinnock Square, Hastings TN34 3HQ, UK

Edward Arden Hilliard (1904 – 30 August 1976) was an Hypocrites' Club member who later appeared in Terence Lucy Greenidge's movie, ''The Scarlet Woman: An Ecclesiastical Melodrama''.

Hilliard was born in 1904, the son of Edward Hilliard, Bursar of Balliol College, Oxford, and Kathleen Margaret Alexander Arden (1877-1939). He had three sisters, Heather Evelyn (b. 1899), Barbara Joyce (b. 1902), and Margaret Lilian Kathleen (b. 1907). In 1939 his mother Kathleen Hilliard committed suicide jumping from the roof of a private nursing home where she was treated for mental illness.[1]

He attended Winchester College and then Balliol College, Oxford, and was part of the Hypocrites' Club.[2] At college he was friend of Matthew Ponsonby, 2nd Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede, Anthony Powell, Evelyn Waugh, Harold Acton, Mark Ogilvie-Grant, Hugh Lygon, Robert Byron and Richard Pares.[3]

Hilliard was a freshman at Balliol College with Anthony Powell, Matthew Ponsonby, 2nd Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede, Peter Quennell and Pierse Synnott. He was in particular friend of Ponsonby. In his autobiography ''To Keep the Ball Rolling'', Powell, wrote of Hilliard: [He] had come up to Oxford from Winchester, with a Balliol Exhibition, and an unmanageable burden of good looks. Handsome, nice mannered, mild in demeanour, Hilliard, at first meeting, conveyed not the smallest suggestion of his capacity for falling into trouble. The variety of ways in which he got on the wrong side of the authorities during his period of residence (prematurely cut short) was both contrarious and phenomenal. He was one of the nicest of men, in certain moods content to live a quiet even humdrum existence; at other times behaving with a minimum of discretion, altogether disregarding the traditional recommendation that, if you can't be good, be careful. [...] A vignette that remains in my mind of this early Balliol period is of being woken up one night to find Hilliard and Ponsonby standing by my bedside. Without a word, one of them held out a brimming glass of sparkling burgundy. I drained it, equally in silence.[4] Later, on September 19, 1982, reading the obituary of John Edward Bowle, Powell remembered how at Oxford he always avoided him; Hilliard and Ponsonby instead engaged with Bowle to shortly after dropping him when his bad temper came out.[5]

In September 1924 Hilliard appeared as Baptisto Illiardo in ''The Scarlet Woman: An Ecclesiastical Melodrama'', directed by fellow Oxford student Terence Lucy Greenidge, and written by Evelyn Waugh.[6] [7] The other cast members were: the same Evelyn Waugh, Elsa Lanchester, John Greenidge (Terence's brother), Alec Waugh, John Sutro, the same Terence Greenidge, Septimus Nixon (real name Guy Hemingway), Derek Erskine, Michael Murgatroyd (real name William Lygon, 8th Earl Beauchamp), Archibald Gordon and Sibbald Malcolm.[8] The absurd plot was about the Pope (Guy Hemingway) trying to convert England to Catholicism using Sligger (the Dean of Balliol, Evelyn Waugh). Greenidge, his brother John, Waugh and Sutro put 5 pounds each and bought a camera. Filming mostly took place in Arthur Waugh's garden at Hampstead with few other locations in London and Oxford. Most of the actors came from the Hypocrites' Club, other than Waugh's brother, Alec, and Elsa Lanchester, not yet a professional actress and managing a night club in Charlotte Street, London. Her pay was a £4 dinner. ''The Scarlet Woman'' is Evelyn Waugh's only movie and was never shown in public; it had private screenings in London and Oxford. Christopher Sykes says it "became a legend rather than an experience" for most of Waugh’s friends. Father C.C. Martindale of Campion Hall, a Catholic house in the University of Oxford, saw it and "laughed till his tears flowed".

After Evelyn Waugh left Oxford, he kept going back and in November 12, 1924, he accepted a lunch date with John Sutro, that was indeed a surprise party at which Sutro invited all of Waugh's "old friends": Harold Acton, Mark Ogilvie-Grant, Hugh Lygon, Robert Byron, Arden Hilliard and Richard Pares. Tha night Waugh got into Balliol and was let out of a window for having mocked Hilliard and Powell.[9] Later it's to this visit that Waugh attributed his "decline" into alcohol.[10]

Hilliard is listed in the "gay set" of the Hypocrites' Club, together with Hugh Lygon, Harold Acton, Mark Ogilvie-Grant, John "The Widow" Lloyd, Robert Byron, and Gavin Henderson. At Oxford he was an aesthete, and part of it was "a tacit acceptance of homosexuality". Robert Byron, openly homosexual, and John "The Widow" Lloyd gave a Victorian party where men dressed in feminine apparel and Arden Hilliard masqueraded as a nun. That night Hilliard went through the gate of Balliol in his nun costume. Hilliard was promptly dismissed[11] and it has been reported that, after many warnings, The Hypocrites' Club was finally closed down in May 1925 by the dean of Balliol College, "Sligger" Urquhart, after a dress party where members dressed as nuns and choirboys and painted their lips vermillion.[12]

In 1926 Hilliard undertook a trip to Corsica with Anthony Powell, just graduated from Balliol College; on the way back in Nice they met Hugh Lygon who was staying at W. Somerset Maugham's villa. Hilliard then took up farming.

In 1936, Major Guy Richard Charles Wyndham (1896 - 19 May 1948), who wrote the autobiographical novel ''The Gentle Savage'' under the name of Richard Wyndham, issued invitations to a "remarkable" dinner that reads: "To Welcome Home Aginejok. Richard Wyndham invites you to a Dinka Dinner to be held in the Bahr-el-Ghazal Room, Savoy Hotel, at 8.0 p.m. on September 2nd. It is hoped that after-dinner speakers will stand on one leg." Aginejok was the native name for the friendly district commissioner who had been his host in the Sudan. The invited guests were: Tom Driberg, Montague Shearman, Hon. David Tennant, R. J. Brock, Arden Hilliard, E. A. Boyce, St John Hutchinson, K.C., Ralph Keene, Peter Quennell, John Heygate, Sacheverell Sitwell, Curtis Moffat, Freddy Mayor, Desmond Flower, 10th Viscount Ashbrook, Hon. Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross, Major W. R. Barker, Capt. J. S. Poole, Capt. F. O. Cave, and A. J. A. Symons. The dinner was so remarkable that is remembered in at least two memoirs: ''Tom Driberg: his life and indiscretions'' and ''A. J. A. Symons: His Life and Speculations''.[13] [14]

During World War II Hilliard became a captain of infantry. He was Mentioned in dispatches on 15 April 1941 in the Supplement of ''The London Gazette''.[15]

After World War II, according to Powell, he took "an erratically charted course that had something of Jude the Obscure in reverse; erstwhile scholar who transformed himself into a rustic swain." Hilliard moved to Sussex and became the area secretary of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Hilliard died on 30 August 1976. At the time of his death he was living at Sinnock Square, High Street, Hastings, Sussex.[16]

My published books:

See my published books