Midley History of early Photography:

R. Derek Wood’s articles on the History of early Photography, the Daguerreotype and Diorama


Introduction (page for small screen devices)

This website presents academic research articles on the early history of photography published by R. D. Wood between 1970 and 2008. In addition a few items that never reached printed publication have been placed here (see especially additional material on Daguerre's Diorama, and some Miscellaneous sources of early history of photography), as well as three webpages of unpublished correspondence by the author on many aspects of the subject.
The full contents are easily available from the hypertext menu in the frame on the left of your screen. A full bibliographic list is also provided below which for most items provides additional comments regarding the original publication. On a first visit the best way to see the range of work on offer is to look through this bibliography:
Also note that many of these articles are also available as PDFs: PDF files menu.


Articles by R. D. Wood on the early history of Photography

  1. ‘Brewster’s and Claudet’s Topaz Camera Lens, 1867 ’,  [PDF file]
    Microscopy (London: Journal of the Quekett Microscopical Club), February 1969, Vol. 31, pp. 121-2.

  2. ‘Victorian Photographers’,
    The Photographic Journal (Royal Photographic Society), July 1969, Vol. 109, p. 412; September 1969, Vol. 109, p. 536
    Two letters (relating to comments by A. T. Gill) on Thomas Sopwith's diary entries on seeing photographs at Babbage's soiree on 16 March 1839 and of photography by J. B. Reade at Hartwell House and Stone in 1856 [PDF file].

  3. ‘The Daguerreotype Portrait of Dorothy Draper’,
    The Photographic Journal (RPS), December 1970, Vol. 110, pp. 478-482

  4. ‘J. B. Reade, F.R.S., and the Early History of Photography, Part I: a re-assessment on the discovery of contemporary evidence’,
    Annals of Science, March 1971, Vol. 27, pp. 13-45
    The 33 pages of text in their original layout are also presented as a PDF file (363KB) for download by clicking [here] and the two illustrations (portrait of Reade and lithograph of head of a flea) are provided in a larger PDF file of 910KB size: click [here].

  5. ‘J. B. Reade, F.R.S., and the Early History of Photography, Part 2: Gallic Acid and Talbot's Calotype Patent’,
    Annals of Science, March 1971, Vol. 27, pp. 47-83 with plate XIII.
    This paper is also available as a 454KB PDF file, downloaded by clicking [here]

    Immediately after the appearance of the above two articles (items 4 and 5) the intention was to publish a Bibliography of Reade's writings. This did not happen, but it is now made available on this website (see below item 34).

  6. The Involvement of Sir John Herschel in the photographic patent case, Talbot v. Henderson, 1854 ’,
    Annals of Science, September 1971, Vol. 27, pp. 239-264
    This paper is also available in its original page layout by download as a PDF file (184KB) by clicking [here].

  7. J. B. Reade and Dr. Hugh Diamond’ (Letter to the editor),
    British Journal of Photography, 21 July 1972, Vol. 119: No.5844, pp. 611

  8. ‘J. B. Reade's early photographic experiments - recent further evidence on the legend ’,
    British Journal of Photography, 28 July 1972, Vol. 119: No. 5845, pp. 644-7, 643

  9. The Calotype Patent Lawsuit of Talbot v Laroche, 1854
    Privately published: Bromley (Kent) 1975, 32pp, 2 ills, 21cm [A5]. ISBN 0-9504377-0-0.
    British Library shelf-mark X709/30084; Library of Congress, Washington, Call No.: KD379.T3W6 1975
    Classified by Whitaker's Books in Print as ‘Photography, History of’, but the British National Bibliography classification — Dewey 346.42.0486 — was ‘Patents, law’!

  10. ‘The Daguerreotype in England; some primary material relating to Beard's lawsuits’,
    History of Photography, October 1979, Vol. 3 (4), pp. 305-9

  11. Daguerreotype Shopping in London in February 1845’,
    British Journal of Photography, 9 November 1979, Vol. 126: No. 6224, pp. 1094-5

  12. The Daguerreotype Patent, the British Government, and the Royal Society’,
    History of Photography, January 1980, Vol. 4 (1), pp. 53-59
    A previously unpublished three-part Addendum to this article has been added to this website presenting the full texts of the documents of Miles Berry's approach to the British Government and of John Herschel's letter to Daguerre.
    The article with addendum is also available as one PDF (Acrobat Reader) file:  click here to [download PDF].

  13. ‘Latent developments from Gallic Acid, 1839 ’,
    Journal of Photographic Science, January 1980, Vol. 28 (1), pp. 36-42.
    An abbreviated version (about one-third length) of ‘Latent developments from Gallic Acid, 1839’, was later published in Henry Fox Talbot: Selected Texts and Bibliography, edited by Mike Weaver, Oxford: Clio Press 1993, pp.65-70  (has an unfortunate alteration by the publisher on p.70 of a correct word ‘from’ to read entirely misleadingly ‘with’: for only the two words ‘Gallic Acid’ were carefully cut from Talbot's Notebook, not the entire page, which gives a very different aspect to the action – see plate xiii from the article to which that text referred.)

  14. ‘Daguerreotype Case Backs: Wharton's Design of 1841’,
    History of Photography, July 1980, Vol. 4 (3), pp. 251-2

  15. The Old Cap Anew: R. D. Wood introduces some thoughts of George Sala, written in 1859, about the condition of photography at that time’,
    Professional Photographer, December 1992, Vol. 32, (No.12), p. 14.

  16. A co-authored article:  R. D. Wood & P. G. Harmant,
    ‘Daguerre's Demonstrations in 1839 at the Palais d’Orsay’,   [PDF file]
    History of Photography , Winter 1992, Vol. 16 (4), pp. 400-1
    This article is not presented here as a webpage but as a PDF file (169 KB) which can be downloaded by clicking [here]. The figure of a selected area of a map of Faubourg St. Germain in 1834 (showing site of Palais d'Orsay "in construction") was published in the journal at a greatly reduced size. Thus for this online presention the full area of the 1834 map at a higher resolution is also provided here as a separate [PDF file of map]

  17. Ste Croix in London’,
    History of Photography, Spring 1993, Vol. 17 (1), pp. 101-7.
    The text of this article is also presented as a PDF file of 360 KB size which can be downloaded by clicking [here].
    One function of this article was to set the scene for a companion article by Peter James on Ste Croix in Birmingham, linked by an editorial title of ‘The Enigma of Monsieur de Sainte-Croix’. The choice of Ste Croix as the best form of the name rather than St Croix, was also an editorial style decision. The article as sent to the publisher had used both variants of the name, for there is no way of judging which of the various forms of the name used in the press reports in 1839 was correct, although indeed Ste Croix is more likely.

  18. ‘The Diorama in Great Britain in the 1820s’,
    History of Photography, Autumn 1993, Vol.17 (3), pp. 284-295
    The text of this on-line version of this 14,800–word essay reprints the original printed text of 1993, but many extra illustrations are provided,  In addition linked sub–pages are added to provide the complete Diorama Patent specification of 1824, contempory documentation about the London Diorama by James Elmes and by John Timbs, and a note on William Newton, Patent Agent.

  19. ‘Daguerre and his Diorama in the 1830s: some financial announcements’,
    Photoresearcher, [Journal of the European Society for the History of Photography, Croydon], March 1997, Issue Nr 6 (‘1994/95/96’), pp. 35-40
    This article was accepted by the editors in March 1993. At first publication was expected in Issue No. 5, December 1993, but that issue was shortened for financial reasons. The next appearance of the journal was continually delayed, so that the article was not published until June 1997, four years(!) after it had been accepted for publication. An important timetable graph of showings of the thirteen dioramas displayed in Paris in the 1830s was omitted by the editor

  20. The Arrival of the Daguerreotype in New York,
    monograph published in New York: American Photographic Historical Society 1994  [but actually issued January 1995], 20 pp. 22cm,  pbk.
    British Library shelf-mark YK1995 / a3038

  21. The Voyage of Captain Lucas and the Daguerreotype to Sydney’,
    The Daguerreian Annual 1995, pp. 51-7.
    Slightly amended by the addition of a new footnote No. 3, after the first appearance of the article in
    New Zealand Journal of Photography, August 1994, No.16, pp.3-7, an original version which was also reprinted (in English, but with quotations of French sources restored) in Journal de la Société des Océanistes (Paris), 1996, tome 102, pp. 113-8.
    The slightly revised 1995 article has also since been reprinted in a collection of essays on the subject of The French and the Pacific World, 17th–19th Centuries: explorations, migrations and cultural exchanges, edited by Annick Foucrier, Ashgate Publishing Ltd/Variorum: Aldershot, England and Burlington, Vermont, USA, March 2005, pp. 69-79.

    Two unpublished Appendices to the essay on Captain Lucas were compiled in 1993. Data compiled from worldwide newspapers and Lloyd’s List provide timetables of ports visited by the Justine from 1837 to 1841 — Appendix 1, and by L’Oriental from Nantes on 2 October 1839 to being wrecked at Valparaiso on 23 June 1840 — Appendix 2.

    The full article and the two appendices have been translated into Portuguese by Richardo Mendes and are available as Boletim 039 (11.05.03) on his Brazilian blog at Fotoplus.com, or as a PDF file on this Midley site.

  22. ‘John S. Winter's Family, Friends and Places in 1854’,
    New Zealand Journal of Photography, May 1995, No.19, pp. 12-15.

  23. Photocopying in January 1843: the Treaty of Nanking’,   in
    Darkness and Light – The proceedings of the ESHP Symposium, Oslo 1994, edited by R. Erlandsen and V. Halvorsen, (Oslo: Norsk Fotohistorisk Forening 1995), pp. 145-150.
    See also items 24 and 32.

  24. ‘The Treaty of Nanking: Form and the Foreign Office, 1842-1843’,
    Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (Frank Cass Ltd.: UK), May 1996, Vol. 24 (2), pp. 181-196
    This article concerns the diplomatic history of the Treaty of Nanking but initiates this subject with a brief account of the photocopying of the treaty at the Foreign Office already considered in detail in the previous paper read at Oslo.

  25. Edited and compiled two annual issues of photohistorica, No. 54/55 (July 1995), and No. 56/57 (February 1996).
    Bibliographies of articles on the history of Photography that appeared in periodicals during 1993 and 1994. Photohistorica was published by the European Society for the History of Photography.
    25b. Also provided here are two book reviews written by R. D. Wood in 1995 and 1997 for the ESHPh Newsletter

  26. Julia Margaret Cameron's copyrighted photographs.
    Unpublished A5 booklet, 24pp.
    Introduction, page 1; List of 508 photographs copyrighted by Mrs Cameron from 1864 to 1873 compiled from COPY 1 records at Public Records Office, pages 2-19; table and graph, p. 20; Index of Persons pp. 21-2; Index of Titles pp. 23-4; and a reproduction of an entry form on back page. Only four copies were produced.  In November 1996 one copy was deposited at Public Record Office (National Archives) at Kew and one copy to the library of the Royal Photographic Society (now at the National Museum of Photography, Bradford).
    This booklet list of Mrs Cameron’s copyrighted photographs is also available as a 205KB PDF file:  download by clicking [here]

  27. ‘Straightening the record on Reade’ [letter to editor],
    British Journal of Photography, 3 July 1996, Vol. 143: No. 7083, p. 7

  28. ‘The Daguerreotype and Development of the Latent Image: “Une Analogie Remarquable”,’
    Journal of Photographic Science, Sept / Oct 1996, Vol. 44 (5), pp. 165-7

  29. “Martin Laroche” was not Canadian’,
    History of Photography, Winter 1996, Vol. 20 (4), pp. 371-3

  30. A co-authored article:  by Claude-Alice Marillier and R. Derek Wood,
    ‘Pierre G. Harmant (1921-95). A Bibliography
    with a short Biographical introduction,
    History of Photography, Autumn 1997, Vol. 21 (3), pp. 248-52

    This Bibliography and (translated into French) the short biography, also appear on the website of Claude-Alice Marillier.

  31. A State Pension for L. J. M. Daguerre for the Secret of his Daguerreotype Technique’,
    Annals of Science, September 1997, Vol. 54 (5), pp. 489-506

  32. ‘Photocopying the Treaty of Nanking in January 1843’,
    At the beginning of October 1997 this article was sent for publication in the quarterly journal History of Photography, but this never happened.  In June 1997 it had been revealed that the Chinese Government's manuscript of the Treaty that had disappeared had been taken by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist forces to Taipei in 1949.  As it could now be seen that Henry Collen's photographic copy had been produced from the manuscript that had appeared in Taipei, a conclusive radical revision of an unpublished article about Collen's photo–copy could thus be made, combined with a revised version of the paper read in August 1994 in Oslo (item 23).   This final work on the photocopying of the Treaty of Nanking therefore appeared firstly on Claude-Alice Marillier's web site before its appearance here.

  33. ‘A Note on the Daguerréotype Portrait said to be of “M. Huet, 1837” ’,
    This article has not been published in print. It first appeared online in French in 1999 on Claude–Alice Marillier's website Collodions & Clopinettes.

  34. ‘Bibliography of J. B. Reade, F. R. S’,
    When the author’s essay on ‘J. B. Reade and the early history of photography’ was published in 1971, a ‘Bibliography of Joseph Bancroft Reade (1801–1870)’ had been prepared and was due (it could be said in a footnote to that publication) “to be published”. However, for one reason and another, this did not happen. A few items have been added in the intervening years. This bibliography has remained unpublished but a copy is held by the library of the Royal Society (RS library: Tracts X499/3). In developing this website it is appropriate to make it available here, along with an [index] to his writings.
    This bibliography is also available as a 200KB PDF file:  download by clicking [here].

  35. R. D. Wood,‘Reade, Joseph Bancroft (1801-1870), microscopist and experimenter in photography’,
    Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , Vol. 46, pp. 230-231, Oxford University Press, 2004.
    Commissioned by OUP at an early stage of their 12-year project to produce a new DNB, this article was written and delivered to the publisher in 1996. The stipulation by the OUP editor of science subjects was that it should be a revision only of the old 1896 article, keeping as much as possible of the original.

  36. Fourteenth March 1839, Herschel’s key to photography, the way the moment is preserved for the future’,
    in Jubilee – 30 Years ESHPh.  Congress of Photography in Vienna, edited by Anna Auer and Uwe Schögl, Fotohof edition (nr.104), Salzburg, Austria: 2008, pp. 18-31

  37. No Daguerreotype for the Young Queen Victoria: A Case of English Protocol or Perfidie?.
    October 1839: “Mr Daguerre has requested me to ascertain whether Her Majesty would receive a copy of his recent inventions”.
    PhotoResearcher (European Society for the History of Photography, Vienna), Oct 2014. No. 22, pp. 22-29.
    A PhotoResearcher ‘Editorial’ comment appears on p. 8: “R. Derek Wood investigates the reasons for Daguerre not sending a photo [sic] to Queen Victoria as he had done to many other rulers in Europe..., Wood’s investigation provides an illuminating commentary on the politicisation of photography in the early days.”

    Following below are some articles unpublished (except here!)

  38. J. B. Reade’s letters to Jabez Hogg - Reade’s last days’,
    Submitted in 2011 to Quekett Journal of Microscopy but not published. Through February 1868 to November 1870 seven letters written by Rev. J. B. Reade to Jabez Hogg (1817-1899), regarding affairs of the Royal Microscopical Society, have survived. The four letters of 1870 reported in this article were those written by Reade in the last three painful months of his life before he died on 12 December 1870. They are very personal and indeed moving letters.

  39. Accounting W. H. F. Talbot’s Photogenic Drawing at the Royal Society in 1839’,
    Unpublished article by R. Derek Wood.
    Abstract: In January 1839 W. H. F. Talbot became anxious to obtain recognition for priority of invention of his incomplete work on the production of images on paper using silver salts that he called Photogenic Drawing. Writing a general descriptive ‘Account’ lacking specific chemical data of the method, Talbot sent it to London cultural weekly journals for immediate publication. But his prime aim was to get academic recognition by submission to the Royal Society. The difficulty created for the Royal Society of refusing him publication in the Philosophical Transactions — due to his prior publication elsewhere and lack of specific data — is described and evaluated. Particular attention is given, with regard to Talbot, of a corrosive effect of a self-driven need for ‘priority of publication’ ; on the policy in the 1840s of the Royal Society on acceptance for publication of papers in their Proceedings and Phil.Trans.; the final section looks at an attitude of William R. Grove, critical of an enclosed way papers were read at meetings of the Royal Society.

  40. Thoughts on Talbot in 1839: a postscript to Accounting W. H. F. Talbot’s Photogenic Drawing at the Royal Society in 1839’,
    Unpublished article by R. Derek Wood. the first draft written in the late 1970s, Intended as a critique of a Talbo-centricity prevalent in writings on the history of photography.

  41. Robert Bingham printing in France glass negatives of London Exhibition of 1851.
    Unpublished research by R. Derek Wood. Source material.
    Talbot’s sponsered calotypist Henneman did not print the illustrations to Reports by the Juries of the London Exhibition of 1851. Even though standard histories still speak of “Calotypes”, they were taken on collodion glass plates. To avoid difficulties with Talbot over his calotype patent of 1842, the Commissioners of the Exhibition arranged for Robert Bingham to print those glass negatives in France at Versailles. Some of the significant source material is presented here in a PDF.

  Many of the above articles are also available as PDFs: PDF files menu

Author’s Comment

This is a personal site in that it provides the publications on the history of photography of only one person. It is not otherwise personal in the sense of providing or promoting more private or family information. But there appears to be a general expectation that at least some limited information is supplied about an author. A very short item ‘About the Author’ was required in 1994 to accompany the publication of the essay on ‘The Arrival of the Daguerreotype in New York’, is available on an Author page.

It is appropriate here to provide the personal reason why this site is named as Midley. The author’s paternal ancestors through much of the nineteenth century, in particular at the period the subject of these articles are set — in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s —, lived at Midley in the middle of the Romney Marsh (at the south west corner of Kent on the English Channel). They were agricultural labourers and shepherds — or, to use the local word, ‘Lookers’. It must have been a hard life on the Romney Marsh at that period. Yet Thomas Wood and wife Elizabeth were obviously healthy having fifteen children, all who lived to become adults. In the Midley area resided only about six families in the mid-nineteenth century. Yet at some earlier period there must surely have been a larger number of residents of the area, for there had been a small chapel in existence which has very long since survived only as a ruin, prominent in the surrounding flatness of the Marsh. Photography would certainly not have touched their lives — they were typical of a neglected rural working class, ignored at the time and unknown now.

In my research on the history of the 1830s and 1840s (appropriate - I feel - to dedicate it to those labourers and Lookers at Midley of that period), I have been struck by the existence of many significant contributors to the beginnings of photography who have been greatly neglected or are entirely absent from what might be called the standard histories of the subject. The parameters of the early history of photography have become set, for example, by the self-promoting character of W. H. F. Talbot. The ‘standard’ texts need to be read and known, of course, but when you spend too much of your life looking at primary sources, then the inevitable result is that the historiography of the subject remains contained within very narrow boundaries. The history of photography requires some of the fresh air and wide open sky characteristic of Midley of the Romney Marsh.

What has been published from research by the author on primary sources (and what other research needs publication!) reconstructs forgotten episodes of the early history of photography no more than the surviving stones of the Midley Chapel can represent the original church. Maybe, dear reader, you can add a brick sometime to provide a fuller view of a Midley emblem history of photography.

View of Midley Chapel  |  Map of Midley.  |

Archived by UK Webarchive:
‘Midley History of Early Photography’
Selected for preservation by the British Library
midley.co.uk archived at webarchive.org.uk
Also archived at the Internet WaybackMachine:

 To contact the author:  go   [here]

[ Contents menu ]

 Pages were last added to this site July 2015