Family and childhood
Olivier was born in Wilton, of Huguenot stock, her father being Canon of Wilton, and her mother the daughter of a bishop. She was one of ten children. After receiving schooling at home, Olivier went up to St Hugh's College, Oxford in 1895, but completed only four terms before leaving because of asthma.
Until his death in 1919 her life was dominated by her father, who was both autocratic and conservative. She was an adherent of the Anglican Church and served on the Bishop's Women's Diocesan Council. Olivier also undertook activities in the Conservative Party, and Women's Institute. In 1916, at the behest of the Wiltshire county agricultural committee, Olivier helped form the Women's Land Army in Wiltshire, for which she was rewarded in 1920 with an MBE. When she was elected to Wilton Town Council in 1934, she became the first woman to serve on the council, and was later mayor from 1938 to 1941. Her public service during the Second World War included the presidency of the local St John Ambulance Brigade.
Writing and artistic circle
Olivier had lived with her father and younger sister Mildred, and it was after Mildred died in 1927 that she started to engage a broader social circle. She formed a profound friendship with Rex Whistler and acted as a frequent hostess to an elite, artistic, and largely homosexual, social set which included Cecil Beaton, Siegfried Sassoon, William Walton, and Osbert Sitwell.
Olivier died in 1948, after suffering three strokes, and was interred in Wilton churchyard.
- "Edith Olivier". Oxforddnb.com. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- Entry for OLIVIER, Edith, in Stringer, Jenny: Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Literature, p 510