Hilda Lockhart Lorimer

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Elizabeth Hilda Lockhart Lorimer (1873–1954) was a classical scholar who spent her career at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Her best known work was in the field of Homeric archeology and ancient Greece, but she also visited and published on Turkey, Albania and the area that later became Yugoslavia. She almost never used her first name; her family called her Hiddo; and at Oxford she came to be known as Highland Hilda because of her Scottish background.[1]


The grave of Hilda Lockhart Lorimer, Warriston Cemetery

Lorimer was the second of eight children born to Reverend Robert Lorimer and his wife. Her brother David Lockhart Robertson Lorimer was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Indian Army, a noted linguist and a political official in the British Indian government, which included a term as the British Political Representative in Cairo during the First World War.[2][3] Her brothers Gordon and Bert worked in the civil administration in the Indian Political Service.[4] Another, William, became Professor of Classics at St Andrews. Her sister Emilia became a notable poet, and her other sister Florence served as personal secretary to Aurel Stein at the British Museum.


Lorimer attended the High School of Dundee in Scotland from 1889 – 1893. She was granted a scholarship to Girton College at Cambridge, where she ranked first in her class. While attending Girton, Lorimer never actually attended classes in Cambridge and instead was taught by tutors coming out to her.


In 1896 she became a fellow and tutor of the classics at Somerville College, Oxford, which is where she spent the rest of her career. At Somerville, she had little contact with colleagues. Discrimination against women was an institutionalized part of the culture in English universities at the time and something Lorimer struggled with for much of her life.

She was a skilled Latin linguist, but at Oxford her interests turned toward archeology. She took a sabbatical to attend the British School at Athens in 1901 and 1902. There she began focusing on Homeric archeology, the study of ancient civilizations known through the poems of Homer.[5]

When Oxford began admitting females to full university membership, Lorimer applied for her master's degree and was accepted. She returned to Athens in 1922 and became a university lecturer at Oxford from 1929 – 1937. She retired in 1939, but the university kept her on as an honorary fellow.

She died on 1 March 1954 and is buried with her siblings in Warriston Cemetery in north Edinburgh. The grave lies to the south-west of the now-sealed eastern entrance.


Lorimer published extensively on Homeric studies throughout her career, but her seminal work came late in life with the publication of Homer and the Monuments. Its publication was delayed until 1950 by World War II.


  1. ^ Helen Waterhouse, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press 2004–13.
  2. ^ Emily Overend Lorimer, "Papers of Emily Overend Lorimer, author, editor of 'Basrah Times' 1916–17, wife of Lt-Col David Lorimer, Indian Political Service 1903–27 Mss Eur F177 1902–1949", British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections; Private Papers [Mss Eur F175 – Mss Eur F199], National Archives (UK) 
  3. ^ Lorimer, Lieutenant-Colonel David Lockhart Robertson, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Archive Catalogue
  4. ^ Penelope Tuson (19 December 2003). Playing the Game: Western Women in Arabia. I.B.Tauris. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-1-86064-933-2. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Helen Waterhouse, Breaking Ground: Women in Old World Archaeology, Brown University.