Hugh Evelyn-White was born in Ipswich in 1884, son of the Rev. Charles Harold Evelyn-White and Charlotte Reid. Charles had a passion for history and archaeology and was one of the founders of the Cambridge and Huntingdonshire Archaeological Society; these interests seem to have had a great influence on his son. Hugh studied Classics at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 1907. In his career as an academic, he was outstanding both as an archaeologist and as a classicist. His edition and translation of Hesiod and the Homeric hymns remained the standard English version for many years. He also published many books and articles based on the excavations he undertook in Egypt and on texts from the Coptic monasteries of that country.
During the First World War he obtained a commission in the British Army and served in the Middle East, but was invalided out in 1917. In 1922, he was one of the archaeologists working with Lord Carnavon and Howard Carter on the tomb of Tutankhamun. Two years later, he committed suicide in Leeds, where he was a lecturer at the University. Some of those who assert that a “curse of Tutankhamun” afflicted many connected to the excavation include the death of Evelyn-White as supposed evidence, but in fact his suicide was most likely linked to the death of a close friend.