Hilary Davies

Translator, Poet, Non-fiction writer


Hilary Davies is a poet, translator and critic. She has published three collections of poetry (all published by Enitharmon): The Shanghai Owner of the Bonsai Shop (1991); In a Valley of This Restless Mind (1997), which includes poem sequences about the love affair between the 12th-century philosopher Peter Abelard and his gifted pupil Héloïse, and a recreation of the society and beliefs of the creators of Palaeolithic cave art in south-west France; and Imperium (2005), containing an evocation of the naval conflict of the Napoleonic wars which was described as ‘brilliant and… astonishing’ by the poet Christopher Middleton.

Hilary won an Eric Gregory award in 1983, has been a Hawthornden Fellow, was first prizewinner in the Cheltenham Literature Festival poetry competition (1987), and chairman of the Poetry Society (1992–3). Her criticism has appeared in such publications as the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review and the Tablet. She co-founded and edited the poetry magazine Argo for 12 years, guest-edited a women’s issue of Aquarius in 1992, and has been guest poetry editor for Artemispoetry. She has represented Britain in the World Poetry Festival, Athens, the Druskininkai International Festival, Lithuania and Strokestown, Eire.

Hilary was one of the first intake of women undergraduates at Wadham College, Oxford, where she read French and German. She was head of languages at St Paul’s Girls’ School for 19 years, has been a tutor in creative writing, lecturer in English linguistics and Tefl teacher. Hilary was married to the poet and editor, Sebastian Barker, who died in 2014.

More from Hilary Davies


Hilary Davies

Translator, Poet, Non-fiction writer


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  • British Library, 2018–2019
  • King’s College London, 2012–2016