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Request for information: Cyril M. Bernard (20th c photographer)

Hello,

I'm looking for information about a photographer called Cyril M. Bernard (see attached stamp), so I can contact him, or the current rights holder of this photo, to ask for permission to reproduce it (I'm a historian currently preparing a book manuscript).

He was working around London in the 1950s and 60s, but I haven't yet been able to find any information that would help me to trace him or (if deceased) his will. 

Any leads much appreciated!

Thanks,

Ismay

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With advance apologies for what of the following is coals to Newcastle, there's a Cyril M. Bernard who died in Staffordshire in 1997, whose death appears on Ancestry.co.uk. Here's the information given, which should let you apply for a death certificate which would show age, next-of-kin, etc., which might help.

Name: Cyril M Bernard
Record Type: Death
Death Date: 22 Dec 1997
Death Place: Staffordshire, England

Another similar entry, with more details to help you get the certificate suggests his middle name may be Mark:

Name: Cyril Mark Bernard
Death Age: 76
Birth Date: 15 Jun 1921
Registration Date: Dec 1997
Registration District: Stafford
Inferred County: Staffordshire
Register Number: S53D
District and Subdistrict: 7352
Entry Number: 191

A final record shows he died in a hospice in Burton-on-Trent and that he was retired, but sadly no mention of photography! 

Name: Cyril Mark Bernard
Gender: Male
Age: 76
Marital status: Married
Record Type: Cremation
Birth Date: abt 1922
Death Date: 22 Dec 1997
Death Place: D. MacMillan Hospice, Blurton
Burial Date: 2 Jan 1998
Occupation: Retired
Cemetery: Newcastle Crematorium

Also on Ancestry, someone of the same name married a Margaret E. Randall in Willesden (reasonable fit for postcode on your stamp); again the following should let you order a copy of the wedding certificate, which should show profession, home address, etc.

Name: Cyril M Bernard
Registration Date: Jul 1953
[Aug 1953] 
[Sep 1953] 
Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
Registration District: Willesden
Inferred County: Middlesex
Spouse: Margaret E Randall
Volume Number: 5f
Page Number: 775

I couldn't find any references to him in that format of name in the British Newspaper Archive (I also tried without the initial, adding 'photographer', but nothing). He is, however, credited with a book cover photograph on this webpage (at top of long column of books) http://www.penguinfirsteditions.com/index.php?cat=mainX and on another overseas website (a Longman's book).

If you google 'Cyril M. Bernard' on Google Books you'll find he has lots of photo credits, mainly in educational books, but I think it's too long ago for publishers to have records (even if people weren't on furlough/working from home and too busy to look!

I found this rather cute photo on e-bay https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/353139255071, with his name without the M. and a mention of Portfolio Gallery. It might be worth asking if there's any details on the back of the photo about the gallery?

Sorry, all rather bitty, but may help you track him down. Good luck with your quest, Anne  

Thank you Anne, this is very helpful indeed! I had seen the other photographs attributed to him, but did not have the information from Ancestry.

I've just tried using this to search for a registered will, and have found that the only Cyril Bernard with a will from 1997/8 is listed as having died in April 1997. https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/Wills?Surname=Bernard&Surn...

Do you know how to account for this, or are these simply two different people?

Thank you! 

Anne Strathie said:

With advance apologies for what of the following is coals to Newcastle, there's a Cyril M. Bernard who died in Staffordshire in 1997, whose death appears on Ancestry.co.uk. Here's the information given, which should let you apply for a death certificate which would show age, next-of-kin, etc., which might help.

Name: Cyril M Bernard
Record Type: Death
Death Date: 22 Dec 1997
Death Place: Staffordshire, England

Another similar entry, with more details to help you get the certificate suggests his middle name may be Mark:

Name: Cyril Mark Bernard
Death Age: 76
Birth Date: 15 Jun 1921
Registration Date: Dec 1997
Registration District: Stafford
Inferred County: Staffordshire
Register Number: S53D
District and Subdistrict: 7352
Entry Number: 191

A final record shows he died in a hospice in Burton-on-Trent and that he was retired, but sadly no mention of photography! 

Name: Cyril Mark Bernard
Gender: Male
Age: 76
Marital status: Married
Record Type: Cremation
Birth Date: abt 1922
Death Date: 22 Dec 1997
Death Place: D. MacMillan Hospice, Blurton
Burial Date: 2 Jan 1998
Occupation: Retired
Cemetery: Newcastle Crematorium

Also on Ancestry, someone of the same name married a Margaret E. Randall in Willesden (reasonable fit for postcode on your stamp); again the following should let you order a copy of the wedding certificate, which should show profession, home address, etc.

Name: Cyril M Bernard
Registration Date: Jul 1953
[Aug 1953] 
[Sep 1953] 
Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep
Registration District: Willesden
Inferred County: Middlesex
Spouse: Margaret E Randall
Volume Number: 5f
Page Number: 775

I couldn't find any references to him in that format of name in the British Newspaper Archive (I also tried without the initial, adding 'photographer', but nothing). He is, however, credited with a book cover photograph on this webpage (at top of long column of books) http://www.penguinfirsteditions.com/index.php?cat=mainX and on another overseas website (a Longman's book).

If you google 'Cyril M. Bernard' on Google Books you'll find he has lots of photo credits, mainly in educational books, but I think it's too long ago for publishers to have records (even if people weren't on furlough/working from home and too busy to look!

I found this rather cute photo on e-bay https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/353139255071, with his name without the M. and a mention of Portfolio Gallery. It might be worth asking if there's any details on the back of the photo about the gallery?

Sorry, all rather bitty, but may help you track him down. Good luck with your quest, Anne  

Glad some of it was useful - although that's odd about the lack of registered will and/or the other person. I did check 1998 too on the wills page in case he had slipped over to that due to being cremated the next year. I think I might start with the marriage and death certificates to see if photographer is mentioned, then you'll at least know (and may find a next-of-kin, who may have a different surname if it's a daughter).

Happy to keep in touch as you work your way through it - as it happens, I was in Edinburgh this weekend, visiting relatives!

All the best, Anne

I've just found a reference to him, without the M., in a Staffordshire paper, so that confirms he's the one from Staffordshire I think, as it's his opinion on a photographic/art exhibition. 

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Fantastic - thank you! The dates also fit well, if we assume a 1921 birth then training and 40 years experience by the time of the 1991 newspaper article. I'll request a death certificate and hope it leads me to a next of kin. Do you know if the Ancestry 'register number' (S53D) is the same as the General Register Office reference number for requesting a death certificate?

Very much appreciate your time and expertise! 

All the best,

Ismay

Anne Strathie said:

I've just found a reference to him, without the M., in a Staffordshire paper, so that confirms he's the one from Staffordshire I think, as it's his opinion on a photographic/art exhibition. 

Not sure, but I think if you print out what I've sent you and then go into the GRO page you'll have enough to order from the total of those details. Good luck! Anne

In my own files I have some information on Cyril M. Bernard, it consists of a summary of his professional life (digistal file) and an interview with Ron Spillman (hard copy) extracted from a 1960s magazine.  It may not help in your tracing copyright but is available if needed (I can scan the interview).  I have copied and pasted the digital file below.

Matthew

Cyril M. Bernard (Fleet St, Agency)

Bernard was a press/documentary photographer who, in 1952, worked for the Daily Worker. A recent sale of pictures from the IMS archive contained at least 40 portraits by Bernard of leading men in the post war period. These included Trade Unionist leaders, politicians - both local and foreign - and general personalities from contemporary culture (not show biz).

He studied art at Willesden School of Art and later the Polytechnic (Regent St) before the war. After spending the war as a Radar operative in Gibraltar (where he made use of the RAF Darkrooms for his private photographic assignments) Bernard went on to work for a theatrical photography studio (from 1945). He later became a press photographer for the Daily Worker from 1949 - 1955 before going on to freelance. He was freelancing in 1967 when he shared a studio (St John’s Wood) with Hugh Sibley and Leo Kruks (see below) both of whom participated in this exhibition. Much of Bernard’s freelance work supplied the educational press - The Teacher, the Times Educational Supplement, the Inner London Educational Authority and the educational section of the BBC. (Spillman, 1967, p55). He also freelanced for Camera Press Ltd (Russell Court, Coram St, London, WC1).

Influenced by W. Eugene Smith and the work of Life magazine Bernard was an artist at heart - perhaps stemming from his art schooling - and he concentrated on composition, balance, the relationships between forms within the frame of the photograph - eliminating and isolating.

‘…the part is often greater than the whole. The importance of leaving something to the imagination of the viewer - suggesting something rather than hammering it home.’ (ibid, p57)

The magazine interview is illustrated with, amongst other images, a portrait of the photograher's daughter, aged, I would guess, about 8-10, unfortunately no name.  The magazine is from 1967.

Arthur S. Newman, the camera designer, was involved in the establishment of photography courses at the Polytechnic. The University of Westminster have extensive archives, including about the Polytechnic (of which they still use several buildings, including their Regent St cinema), so may have something on Bernard (although I appreciate it may be earlier than Ismay is looking for). 

I did a little more research on Ancestry and found Cyril M. Bernard's children (I'll send you a link so you can see the details).

His daughter Miriam (who is the elder child) uses her maiden name for work; here details are here, with an e-mail address https://www.keele.ac.uk/spgs/staff/miriambernard/. An interview by her, published here, https://www.britishgerontology.org/DB/gr-issues-2007-to-present/gen..., mentions that her father was a photographer, so there's no doubt it's the correct person.

Hopefully she'll be able to help you - she sounds very nice in the interview, so may well be pleased that one of her father's photographs is being published again.

This is all fantastic - thank you very much! It's nice to read a bit of background. This fits very well with the photo I have, which was taken for a socialist-pacifist organisation called the Union for Democratic Control. This is all much more than I had expected to find, and more than I would have been able to without your help!

I will email Miriam Bernard now and I'll be sure to let you both know the final outcome.

If she's concerned how I found her, you can explain that I'm a biographer (including of Antarctic photographer Herbert Ponting, a friend of Arthur S. Newman, who worked with the Polytechnic on photography/film courses), so use Ancestry and British Newspaper Archives regularly. If she's interested in more about the Polytechnic and/or Newman I'm happy to be in touch with her. Hope it all works out.

Ismay Milford said:

This is all fantastic - thank you very much! It's nice to read a bit of background. This fits very well with the photo I have, which was taken for a socialist-pacifist organisation called the Union for Democratic Control. This is all much more than I had expected to find, and more than I would have been able to without your help!

I will email Miriam Bernard now and I'll be sure to let you both know the final outcome.

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