Archivist, author, intellectual researcher into the source of a range of Fortean phenomena and an eloquent exponent of the Psycho Social Hypothesis.
Hilary Evans was all of these things and more. Above all, he was a real gentleman and a friend. I’m saddened to hear of his passing just a year after the death of his wife Mary (read obituary here), who co-founded the Mary Evans Picture Library with Hilary in 1964. He also helped to co-found ASSAP, the Association for the Study of Anomalous Phenomena, in 1981. He was a towering intellectual presence in a field bedevilled by sensationalism and controversy. The loss of his moderating influence will leave a void that cannot be easily filled. Hilary passionately believed that we could learn from the study of extraordinary experiences, whatever their ultimate source.
But he will also be remembered for his books, which were a key guiding influence for me and other young researchers from the 1970s onwards. Titles such as Visions – Apparitions – Alien Visitors, Gods – Spirits – Cosmic Guardians, Seeing Ghosts and Other Worlds will remain standard introductions to the interpretation of UFO encounters and other extraordinary phenomena as culturally shaped visionary experiences (the Psycho Social Hypothesis).
Hilary’s work will also survive in the care of his friends at UFO Sweden, and the wonderful AFU Archive. Since 2003 the volunteer staff at AFU have slowly become the curators of his vast collection of books, periodicals and papers. More than five tons of his collection has been shipped from MEPL’s HQ in Lewisham, south London, to the Archive near Stockholm, during the past decade, where it will be preserved for use by future generations of Fortean researchers. I visited the AFU collection in 2006 and marvelled at what the organisation modestly describe as “one of the most complete repositories of UFO data and UFO folklore in the world.” I can testify to the care and dedication of its staff to the preservation of archive material that no other organisation appears to value, at least not at the present time. Hilary’s legacy is safe in their hands.
Rest in peace, Hilary.