British photographic history

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In November 2014 Christopher Penn published The Herklots folder of Photographs, his third book about photography in South India in the nineteenth century.  His first, In pursuit of the past, containing 333 A5 pages and 68 illustrations, starts like a ‘Who do you think you are?’ story as he learns for the first time about his great-grandfather A.T.W. Penn (1849-1924) one of the pioneering photographers of India.  It describes the life and work of Penn and was published in 2008. 

In his second book The Nicholas brothers and A. T. W. Penn he takes the story on to A. T. W. Penn and his contemporaries, the evolution of commercial photographers’ studios in the second half of the nineteenth century and the subsequent collapse of the market owing to simplification of the process and the introduction of the Kodak camera.  The Nicholas brothers and A. T. W. Penn containing 282 pages including 105 duotone plates, was published by Bernard Quaritch Limited in October 2014.  

Out of the research for these two books came the third, containing 154 A4 pages including 77 duotone plates, published in November 2014.  It describes the growth of Coonoor, the business centre of the Nilgiri Hills in south India, light industry established there, the development of its coffee plantations and information about certain historically important families and individuals including the Herklots, the Stanes, and the Groves families, and photographers active in the region: John Nicholas, James Perratt Nicholas, Edmund David Lyon, A. T. W. Penn and Dr. Alexander Hunter who founded the Madras School of Industrial Arts in 1850 and was joint founder with the Hon. Walter Elliot of the Madras Photographic Society in 1857. 

Read more at www.atwpenn.com.

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