Hilary Sunman

Brain surgery: African dreams - by Hilary Sunman and Josie Prynn
An essay which presents Hilary's subjective experience of recovery from brain surgery following a  subdural haematoma,  interwoven with Josie's professional and personal interpretation . . . as I sank into unconsciousness and brain surgery my mind travelled  the world, and I found myself in Africa, in a hospital in Kigale, Rwanda. Read more

New Book: Following the Letters

'A journey through time in a remote French valley'

When I acquired a semi-derelict water mill in south west France, I set out to restore the mill and create a garden. But the accidental discovery of over 100 letters stowed in one of the cellars drew me into a fascinating voyage of discovery, leading me through two world wars and the tranquil rural life of the interwar years. Buy now

'Hilary has written a fine and enjoyable book. I particularly admire the way she combined the private story, the letters, with the more public history of the fall of France. These things aren't easily done.  Her voice seems to me just right - fond but never sentimental. Hats off to her!' Ian Jack, Guardian columnist, former editor of Granta magazine

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A Lotois family in peace and war: lives in letters

IreneeAn introduction: In the summer of 2014 the Chateau des Albenquats burned down. I could see the plume of black smoke from my garden; thought it was a big bonfire, although they are not allowed in the dry summer months. But when I took my regular evening stroll, a kilometre along a quiet lane in the valley of the Lissourges river, I realised that it was the chateau; the smell of smoke and floccons of ash falling gently.  Read more

About Hilary Sunman

I am a writer of history, an economist, a traveller and a restorer of furniture – and write to reflect on the past and the people who lived there. Read more

Published Writing

DartmouthHow Dartmouth shops have changed since the 1960s In the mid 1960s, Dartmouth was a small self contained town, based on fishing and maritime trade with a few tourist boats and the Britannia Royal Naval College. Fifty years later, the fishing has all but gone, the number of tourist boats has exploded and there is still the college. There are also two supermarkets, sixteen art galleries, and only one butcher and one green grocer. Read more

New Writing

Monkey puzzle: South Wales is a region of mountains, rolling valleys, craggy hills and mists. It is also a wonderful place for walking on Drovers' ways and ancient paths. The ways used to carry all the traffic of people and animals to market and beyond. Cattle trains half a mile long would comprise hundreds of animals, minded by men on horseback, chased and controlled by small sharp collies. The ways are punctuated by Scot's pines – three planted together signalled a hostelry; and by prehistoric standing stones that seem to be endowed with a certain mystic quality. Who placed them there? When, and why? Read more


'Hilary Sunman has written a fascinating account of how a naive young man - her father - was dispatched to run a chunk of the empire towards the end of Britain's colonial stewardship of Kenya. It is an invaluable reminder that - far from the excesses of Mau Mau and White Mischief - hundreds of men like Owen quietly set out from these shores each year to try to do the decent thing in the far flung patches of the map coloured pink'. Evening Standard Read more comments on Hilary's work