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Personal Papers of Hilda Sebastian, 1904 - 1966

Reference Code: GBR/0271/GCPP Sebastian

Scope and Contents

The papers of Hilda Sebastian listed here consist essentially of letters written by her to her mother during her years at Girton College and letters written to her by her close friend Hurrion Rushmer from 1918-1921. The collection also includes some photographs; examination papers and degree certificates; and a few ephemeral items.


  • Creation: 1904 - 1966


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright in items written by Hilda Sebastian (nee Gosling) is presumed to lie with her heir/s.

Biographical / Historical

Hilda Reynolds Gosling was born in 1897 in London, the daughter of Harry Ernest Gosling and Nellie Walter. Harry Gosling was a woollen merchant with business connections in Yorkshire and Lancashire and one of the founders of the firm of Aquascutum: on his death in 1919, Hilda Gosling became a director of his tailoring companies for a short time. Hilda attended successively Streatham Hill High School in London, Queenwood School in Eastbourne, and Wycombe Abbey School. With a year to fill between leaving Wycombe Abbey and taking up her place at Girton, Hilda spent part of 1916 doing war work as a voluntary waitress at Peel House in Horseferry Road, Westminster, a club for Colonial soldiers. She came up to Girton in October 1916 to study Natural Sciences and was registered simultaneously as an external medical student of London University. She also took the Primary Examinations of the Society of Apothecaries of London in Physiology and Anatomy in 1920. Hilda contributed to the war effort again in the Long Vacation of 1918, during which she undertook paid work at the Ministry of Pensions in London. Although she completed her medical examinations and was offered work at Charing Cross Hospital (1919) and Westminster Hospital (1920) Hilda never practised medicine. She says in her book, ‘Lace Collars and Cocoa Cups’, that she was ‘convinced that my academic career at Girton was not wasted. My love of learning and of books has never diminished - - ‘. In 1921 she married John Gardner. She assisted him in his business interests and later ran a second-hand bookshop until her ninetieth year. John Gardner died in 1955. Hilda was married again in 1959, to Graham Sebastian. Hilda Sebastian died in Essex in 1989.


3 archive box(es) (3 boxes) : paper

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to Girton via Louise Roberts, 1990, after Hilda Sebastian's death in 1989.

Related Materials

Hilda Gosling's correspondence with her parents, 1912-1915, is held by the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies.


Hilda Sebastian, 'Lace collars and cocoa cups: a young girl's letters 1912-1920' published 1989, ed. Louise Roberts, was based on the letters listed here and on others which were retained by H S. A copy is held in Girton College Library.

Date information

DateText: Circa 1904 to 1921, 1947, and circa 1966.


Sebastian, Hilda Reynolds, 1897-1989, née Gosling, formerly Gardner, bookseller

Finding aid date

1998-09-03 13:40:49+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Girton College Archive Repository

The Archivist
Girton College Archive
Huntingdon Road
Cambridge CB3 0JG United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 338897