Noël Olivier

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Noël Olivier in circa 1923

Hon. Noël Olivier (1893–1969) who trained and practised as a medical doctor, is now best known for her relationship with Rupert Brooke.

She was the daughter of Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier and Margaret Cox.[1] A cousin was the actor Laurence Olivier.[2]

She attended Bedales School in Petersfield, Hampshire.[3]

Relationship with Rupert Brooke[edit]

Noël Olivier; Maitland Radford; Virginia Woolf (née Stephen); Rupert Brooke

She met the poet Rupert Brooke at a supper party in May 1907, prior to a meeting of the Cambridge Fabians which her father had been invited to address.[4] She was fifteen and he was twenty. He was captivated by the shy intelligent schoolgirl and began to bombard her with letters, initiating a correspondence which was to last until his death in 1915.[5]

Some of Brooke's early poems, such as The Hill, were written about and for his first love, Noël Olivier. Up to the time of her death in April 1969, she steadfastly refused publication of the letters which Brooke had written to her.[4]

Medical career[edit]

She graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Surgery (BS) and Doctor of Medicine (MD). She was registered as a Member of the Royal College of Physicians, (MRCP) and the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS).[1]

On 29 April 1927, at a clinical meeting held at the Victoria Hospital for Children, in a section for the study of disease in children, she presented a paper entitled A Case of Acute Lymphatic Leukæmia.[6]

Family life[edit]

She married William Arthur Richards, son of Robert Richards, on 21 December 1920.[1] Between 1924 and 1940 they had five children: Benedict, Angela (later Harris), Virginia, Tazza and Julia.

Her husband graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine (MB) and Bachelor of Surgery (BS). He was invested as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS). He was also registered as a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians.[1]

She lived in Ickenham, Middlesex, England.[1]


  • Harris, Pippa (1991). Rupert Brooke & Noël Olivier: The Letters Of – Song Of Love. London: Bloomsbury. p. 302. ISBN 0-7475-1048-2. 


  1. ^ a b c d e Hon. Noël Olivier. The
  2. ^ See Wikipedia article her father Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier, Sir Laurence's uncle
  3. ^ The Naturist Society website
  4. ^ a b Brooke, Rupert (1971). Rogers, Timothy, ed. Rupert Brooke: a reappraisal and selection from his writings, some hitherto unpublished. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 231. ISBN 9780710070562. 
  5. ^ Rupert Brooke & Noël Olivier: The Letters of – Song of Love.
  6. ^ Richards, Noel Olivier (Jul 1927). "Cases A Case of Acute Lymphatic Leukæmia". Proc R Soc Med. 20 (9): 1317–1318. doi:10.1177/003591572702000910. PMC 2101400.