Skip to main content

Alwyn, Olive, 1900-1981 (composer)



Olive Pull was born in London in 1900, the daughter of a successful piano manufacturer, William Joseph Pull, who was a partner in the firm of Pull and Field. He had married Emma Jane Pegler from Bisley, Gloucestershire. Olive was the youngest but one of a family of ten. She took piano lessons from an early age, and won a LCC “special talents” scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where she studied piano, singing, and harmony. In 1924 she won the Elizabeth Stokes bursary, was appointed a sub-professor and went on to take her LRAM. While at the Royal Academy she met a fellow student William Alwyn, they were married on January 1st 1929, and had two sons Jonathan and Nicholas. Olive had been taught at the Royal Academy by Hedwig McEwen, J.B. McEwen’s wife, and they became close friends.

As was generally typical for the period Olive gave up her career upon marriage, and never composed again. She separated from Alwyn in 1962, and they were divorced in 1972. She died in a nursing home in Richmond, Surrey, in 1980. The archive includes letters from Olive’s younger brother Stanley Pull, who went to live in Malaya prior to the Second World War where he worked on a rubber plantation. He eventually became the Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia and died in Norfolk in 1988.