British photographic history

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Lectures on early British photography at the Royal Society

The Royal Society is holding two lectures that will be of interest to blog readers:

'Photographing ancient Mesopotamia: Talbot, Fenton and the British Museum'
Friday 23 October, 1-2pm
Mirjam Brusius

Around 1850 A.H. Layard excavated several ancient Mesopotamian sites, the artefacts of which were brought to the British Museum. Here the trustees discussed the use of photography in the field and in the museum. W. H. Fox Talbot, inventor of the Calotype photographic process and a fellow of the Royal Society, became a strong supporter of the application of photography in archaeology. However, the trustees were not immediately convinced. This talk will explore early debates about the use of photography for research purposes.

Mirjam Brusius is writing her doctoral thesis on William Henry Fox Talbot at the University of Cambridge. She is a researcher on the British Library project 'Science and the Antique in the Work of William Henry Fox Talbot', and is currently a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

The lecture is free, but space is limited, to reserve a space, use the Society's online booking form or telephone +44 (0)20 7451 2606.

The Nine Lives of William Crookes
Wednesday 18 November, 6.30pm

Chemist, photographer, editor, public health campaigner, business man, electrician, gold miner, glassworker and occultist: how did Sir William Crookes combine these, and other, "lives" to forge a scientific identity and become President of the Royal Society in 1913?

William Brock is Emeritus Professor of the History of Science, having taught history of science and also directed the interdisciplinary Victorian Studies Centre at the University of Leicester. His most recent book is William Crookes (1832-1919) and the Commercialization of Science (2009).

To book a space for this event please email or telephone 020 7451 2606.

The Society's current photography exhibition, From Fossils to Photography, continues. The exhibition is open during Library working hours (10am - 5pm, Monday to Friday) until November 2009. Entry is free but by appointment only - if you would like to visit please email: or telephoning 020 7451 2606.

For more information visit:

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