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John Thomson honoured with commemorative plaque, exhibition and book

More than thirty people gathered in Edinburgh on 29 September to celebrate the installation of a commemorative plaque to John Thomson (1837-1921) on the exterior of his childhood home at 6 Brighton Street. The building in Thomson's day housed 77 people and is now immediately behind the National Museums Scotland in Chambers Street and close to the University of Edinburgh. 

The centenary of Thomson's death in 1921 was the catalyst for the plaque and follows the restoration of Thomson's grave in 2019. Betty Yao MBE and Jamie Carstairs, Deborah Ireland and others, lobbied Historical Environment Scotland, the Scottish government body which manages the plaque scheme. Representatives from the Scottish Society for the History of Photography, HES, the Royal Photographic Society, curators and photo-historians were all represented,  Thomson is best known for his publications of his travels in Asia and Street Life in London  and for the work he undertook for the Royal Geographic Society in training explorers in photography. He was also a member of the Royal Photographic Society,

An exhibition of 94 of Thomson's photographs, curated by Betty Yao, is also on show at Heriot Watt University. This is the first showing of Through the lens of John Thomson in Edinburgh, Thomson is an alumni of one of the university's predecessor bodies. 

Separately, publisher MuseumsEtc has released a  936-page, two-volume set, comprising John Thomson's Street Life in London and an accompanying volume with context and commentary by Emily Kathryn Morgan. See:

For the exhibition see:

Photographs: © Michael Pritchard

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