Dame Hildelith Cumming (1909-1991)
'In pursuit of perfection'
Rarely have nobility of mind and heart found more generous expression than in D. Hildelith, nun, printer and musician.
Her personal journey led her from a Methodist/Anglican upbringing, by way of Moral Re-Armament and the concert platform (she was a noted interpreter of Brahms' piano music), to Stanbrook, which she entered at 32.
Monastic life was never easy for D. Hildelith, but she entered into everything with enthusiasm. Under her, the Stanbrook Abbey Press was revived and became internationally renowned for fine printing; she contributed much to the renascence of Church music, especially after the liturgical changes of Vatican II; and she was always ready to help anyone in need. Her vocation embraced the whole world. Nothing and no-one was outside it, as the hundreds of letters she managed to squeeze into odd moments attest.
It is, however, as a printer that D. Hildelith is most often remembered - poised above a galley, re-justifying a line of type with slips of tissue paper, or scrutinizing a printed sheet through a magnifying glass. In the service of the Word, no effort was too great; but it was always a joyful effort, as the sudden smile and chuckling 'My hat!' revealed.
Dame Hildelith Cumming features in the 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography'.