British photographic history

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Obituary: Geoffrey W. Crawley (1926-2010) (updated)

Geoffrey Crawley, one of Britain's best photographic editors and scientists, has died aged 83. Crawley was editor of the British Journal of Photography between 1967 and 1987 and worked there until 2000, when he joined Amateur Photographer as photo-science consultant. He wrote for the magazine until recently.

Crawley had a long career in photography and invented the developer Acutol which was sold by Paterson from 1963. He also investigated the Cottingley Fairies hoax and was, for the first time, able to conclusively show how the 1921 fairy photographs had been produced. Crawley was widely consulted within and outside the photographic industry for his expertise in photographic chemistry and science. His active involvement in photography and photographic publishing brought him into contact with many of the leading photographers and photographic personalities from the 1940s onwards.

Fuller obituaries have been published in Amateur Photographer and the British Journal of Photography click the links to read them.

8/11/10 update: there is a rather nice obituary of Geoffrey here:

which sums up the Cottingley Fairies story ands his role in it rather well.

BBC Radio 4 included a feature on Crawley as part of its Last Word programme: the Crawley section begins at 22mins 58 secs and contributors include Colin Harding from the National Media Museum and Chris Dickie, a former editor of the BJP.

Michael Pritchard writes... I first met Crawley in the late 1990s when he decided to sell at Christie's the Cottingley fairy cameras, photographs and related material that he had acquired as part of his research into the story. An appeal was launched and the material was subsequently passed to the then National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford. I visited him at his house in Westcliffe-on-Sea and spent an enjoyable morning listening to his stories about the BJP in the 1960s and the wider photographic world. I proposed that he be interviewed as part of the British Library's Oral History of British Photography but sadly the suggestion was not taken up  by the project. He was an impressive man with a great recall of people of events that have now passed into British photographic history.

See: Geoffrey Crawley, 'That Astonishing Affair of the Cottingley Fairies' in British Journal of Photography Part One (24 December 1982, pp. 1374-1380); Part Two (31 December 1982, pp. 1406-1414); Part Three (7 January 1983, pp. 9-15); Part Four (21 January 1983, pp. 66-71); Part Five (28 January 1983, pp. 91-96); Part Six (4 February 1983, pp. 117-121; Part Seven (11 February 1983, pp. 142-145, 153, 159); Part Eight (18 February 1983, pp. 170-171); Part Nine (1 April 1983, pp. 332-338); Part Ten (8 April 1982, pp. 362-367)

Geoffrey Crawley, 'Cottingley Revisited' in British Journal of Photography, 24 May 1985, pp. 574-562.

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