Call the Midwife Wiki

Lily was a minor character that appeared in Series 7, Episode 6, when her sister, Maureen Walker, started harassing Nurse Dyer for teaching her teenage daughter about reproductive health and anatomy.

Lily was born in 1923, and had a younger sister named Maureen. As children, the girls’ mother would constantly cast sex in a negative light, even going as far to say that girls who “like it wind up in trouble”. This mentality would go on to severely impact both girls’ lives—Maureen’s husband wanted to be more intimate with her, and though she wanted that as well, she couldn’t, her mother having indoctrinated her to believe that pleasure during sex was vile and disgusting. As a result, Maureen’s husband left her.

In her teenage years, Lily discovered sex. It is said later by Maureen that Lily would go up a back alley with boys and once she started having sex “she couldn’t stop”. She would claim Lily had so many sexual partners until she was “ruined”, and sent to a reform school by their parents, never to be seen again. It is unclear if Lily was truly promiscuous or if she was being labelled promiscuous by her parents, who then made Maureen believe the lie as well.

In 1938, at 15 years old, Lily was admitted into a mental asylum, rather than the reform school Maureen had been told. She was diagnosed with “moral insanity”, because her family claimed she was being sexually inappropriate. The diagnosis was reinforced by the fact that Lily was pregnant upon her admittance.

Lily would eventually give birth to a little boy. The baby was forcibly taken from her, a fact which greatly traumatized Lily to the point where she was never released from the institution.  

In 1963, Maureen’s teenage daughter, Elizabeth, forged her mother’s signature to attend a reproductive health and anatomy class. Maureen became livid upon finding out, and even went out of her way to harass the girls who would attend the class, even after forbidding Elizabeth from attending. Nurse Dyer threatened the woman with legal action if she didn’t stop, and Maureen taunted her, saying she’d call her police herself for teaching the girls about such filthy things.

Later, the nurse learns that Maureen’s rage has something to do with her sister, and finally gets out that Lily was sent away because of sex.  Nurse Dyer says that it is important for the two sisters to reconnect, because they are family. A few days later, Maureen has a change of heart, and contacts Nurse Dyer to talk about finding Lily.  The nurse also reveals that the reform school Maureen named is actually a mental hospital.

At the institution, Maureen sees her sister for the first time in 25 years. Lily is now 40 years old, thin and listless, starting hard into space and hardly moving or speaking. The charge nurse reveals the nature of Lily’s commitment, and that following the adoption of her son, Lily “never got over it” and subsequently became mentally disturbed.

Maureen is horrified to realize her parents put their child in a mental institution for only becoming pregnant out of wedlock, and then leaving her there for the next 25 years.

 Maureen then tries to reconnect with her sister. She tells Lily that their parents never told her she’d been institutionalized or that she’d been pregnant. She tells Lily that she’s sorry, and laments that she might have been able to help her sister. Lily replies that Maureen was always a good girl, implying that what her sister just said is untrue.

Maureen then tells her about her daughter, and Lily sadly remarks that Maureen is very lucky to have a husband and child, though Maureen tells her that her husband left her. She leaves Lily with a picture of her niece, Elizabeth.

Lucille and Valerie later lament over the fact that two lives were wasted because of the stigma of sex—Maureen who was damned because she didn’t like, approve or enjoy sex, and Lily who was damned because she did.

Later, Maureen packs a care package for her sister, filled with tooth paste and soaps and various other items.