Research: Who was Christina?

12201004088?profile=originalThe image of Christina by Mervyn O'Gorman will be familiar having been used to promote the exhibition Drawn by Light. The Royal Photographic Society Collection which is still showing at the National Media Museum, Bradford. The Mailonline is trying to find out who Christina was in a feature here. It has interviewed Drawn by Light curator 'and Leeds University lecturer' (better known to BPH readers a National Media Museum curator) Colin Harding who did some biographical research without finding an answer. He has suggested that she was not O'Gorman's daughter but possibly a niece. 

O'Gorman was born in Brighton is 1871 and studied science at University College, Dubin. He later worked in electrical engineering and had a penchant for cars, eventually being crowned vice president of the Royal Automobile Club. 

The talented entrepreneur married Florence Rasch in 1897, and during the first World War, he became a lieutenant-colonel in the RFC.

When he died in 1958 at the age of 87, Melvyn's obituary described him as 'a man of agile mind and Hibernian eloquence'.

12201004488?profile=originalThe article is well worth a read and if you know the answer to who Christina was and what happened to her please contact BPH. It would be nice to scoop the Mail!

Image: The Royal Photographic Society Collection/National Media Museum. 

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of British Photographic History to add comments!

Join British Photographic History


  • Thanks Pam, really looking forward to seeing them.  Looks like the mystery of who Christina was has been solved, but still going to be fascinating to see all the images together.

  • Also look out for images of "Finance" the donkey, of Florence O'Gorman, & Rempstone, all 1913 & monochrome.  Wish I had photocopies (of the b/w Polaroids that were made of the RPS Collection in the 70s) for all the O'Gorman prints rather than just a photocopied handwritten catalogue entry.  Alas, I do not have even a catalogue entry for the autochromes so enjoy looking at those when you have your appointment at the NMeM.  I seem to remember that at least one of them  - the picnic on the beach - was a steroscopic autochrome.  The photographs were donated to the RPS in 1979.  More information may be available at the NMeM.  Good luck!

  • if you're still following the story, it has moved forward a little, not least the discovery of a third younger brother of Mervyn's, Michael Conolly O'Gorman b1885, and the 5 children of Bernardine.

    I've now seen a copy of the will of Mervyn's father, which I did so in the hope it spoke of his grandchildren, it didn't but it did confirm all of his children, and how I found out about the youngest son Michel (who did marry but seems to have died w/out issue, which is actually a moot point as his marriage was in 1916, so no way a child of his could be on a beach in Dorset in 1913)

    No one, incudling myself, can find any neice of Mervyn's having the name Christina, neither forename or middle name, and there is still zero evidence to suggest he had children himself.  

    I have an appointment to visit the RPS collection in Bradford in a couple of weeks.....very pleased to be doing that and very intrigued to see the 'Sybil Miles' images Pam mentioned a few messages ago.  

  • A new image of 'Christina' seems to have appeared via the Science Museum Group....also credited with being taken in 1913, its a bromide print this time.  I've put it together with other images of her for comparison.  the new image is top right...2768208426?profile=original

    photo credits top left © Royal Photographic Society/National Media Museum/Science & Society Picture Library/top right & bottom left ©The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum/ bottom right © NMeM / Royal Photographic Society / Science & Society Picture Library

  • I'd like to see all the images attributed to Mervyn O'Gorman brought together, as we may be able to deduce certain things from viewing them as a whole.  If the images of Sybil Miles can be ascertained as also being taken in Dorset in 1913, then perhaps he was simply taking pictures of local people.  For all we know, he holidayed in Dorset every year and became friends with local families.  We would also be able to rule out Sybilbeing 'Christina'.  

    Is the subject of the B&W studio portrait with that particular name on it

    definitely the same girl as in the 'beach' images ? Is that B&W studio image even correctly attributed to O'Gorman ? 

    The images of 'Christina on the Beach' weren't taken at Lulworth Cove as is usually stated, they were actually taken at Durdle Door beach.  One of the images, 'Christina by the Boat' which clearly has Durdle Door in the background, its been flipped horizontally at some point and thus is often published the wrong way round.  Even the NMM have it on their website the wrong way round  :

    I feel that veiwing all his images together, both those published & unpublished, might be beneficial to finding out who 'Christina' was.

    About Sybil Miles, that name hasn't appeared in any research I have done so far. Lots of other names like Mervyn's companion after the death of his wife, was Charlotte Tennant Copland (in his will she rec'ed the house and a substantial sum of money), Mervyn's collection of poetry published in 1933, was dedicated to Nicolette Hornby....side note, I happen to have a first edition of his book and on the inside cover it reads 'To Joan with many rememberances from the author 30.3.33' 

    Mervyn was certainly an intriguing fellow !

  • I can't add anything other than to say its excellent to be reading all of this, thank you

  • Thanks for that Pam. Fortunately, Sybil Miles is a rather uncommon name. We don't however know whether that is a birth name or married name. I've had a bit of a look at women named Sybil Miles who would have been born before 1900 to try and identify her, but none of what I have found turned up an obvious connection to Mervyn O'Gorman or any girl named Christine.


    Sybil Muriel Miles b. 30 Jun 1879, Hampstead, London, daughter of George Russell Miles (tea merchant) and Sarah.

    Sybil Harris Miles b. 18 Aug 1884, 31 Ladhope Gardens, Kensington, London, daughter of Frederick Harris Miles and Amelia Frances Champion, m. 11 Nov 1903, St. Johns Church, Paddington, London, to Frank Maitland May.

    Dorothy Sybil Miles b. 14 Apr 1892, Kington, Herefordshire, daughter of Henry Hugh Miles and Elizabeth Mary Ballan, d. 1974, m. 1919, Thames, Surrey to John Raymond H. Hyman.

    Grace Sybil Miles b. 1899, Cardiff, Glamorgan


    Sybil Marguerite Gonne/Gonse De Hochepied Larpent b. 15 Jun 1868, Brighton, Sussex, d. 22 July 1948, Bristol, Gloucestershire, daughter of Arthur John Baron De Hochepied Larpent and Cahterine Mary Melvill, m. 1899, London, to Philip Napier Miles

    Sybil Muriel Miles b. 30 Jun 1877, d. 1972, Taunton, Somerset

    Sabrah Sybil Blower b. 6 Mar 1890, d. 1984, Central Cleveland district, m. 1918, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire to George Wiggins Miles.

    Agnes Sybil A Miles b. 3 Apr 1898, d. 1971, Hereford, Herefordshire

    Sybil Miles d. 21 July 1941, Mid-Higham near Rochester (wife of Arthu Frederick Miles)

    There are two adults and two children named Sybil Miles in the 1911 census, the Sybil Muriel Miles mentioned above. aged 31 and single and also Sybil Marguerite Gonne/Gonse Miles, married, aged 41, who was interestingly born in Brighton and a very wealthy widow, leaving an estate worth £165444.

  • That is an interesting bit of info Pam, I'd certainly like to see the images, but can't find them on line so looks like a trip to the NMM in Bradford for me.

  • There are b/w photographs by O'Gorman in the RPS Collection of a woman called Sybil Miles, also taken in 1913.  It may be that Christina is related to her rather than to O'Gorman - daughter/niece perhaps?

  • Hello all, I too have been following this story with interest, and being a keen, albeit amateur, geneaologist I have also been looking into Mervyn's family to find 'Christina', and my research has accounted for all of Mervyn's neices and nephews, and there is no one named  'Christina' but there are two candiates of the correct age.  Can't place them in Dorset in 1913 with Mervyn but still promising. 

    Mervyns father Edmond Anthony Gorman married 3 times and had a total of 9 children..

    1st Marriage 1856 to Sophia Agnes Pereria (1825-1863)

    i Joseph Vincent (1857-1932) Catholic priest died w/out issue

    ii Francis Edmond (1858-1923) married in 1886 had 1 son & 2 daughters. These 2 daughters are possible candiates being born 1893 & 1897 making them 20 & 16 respectively when the 'Christina' photos are taken in 1913.

    iii Ignatius Thomas (1860-1941) Catholic priest died w/out issue

    iv Mary Angela (1863 - 1934)

    v female child died in infancy

    2nd Marriage 1865 to Ellen Whyte (1826-1867)

    vi Edmund John Whyte (1867-1933) Catholic priest died w/out issue

    3rd Marriage 1871 to Margaret Barclay Crawford (1849-1899)

    vii Mervyn Joseph Pius (1871-1958) died w/out issue

    married 1898 Florence Catherine Rasch (1854-1931) 

    viii Cecil Crawford (1873-1943) married in Mexico in 1904 had 4 children Thomas, Juan, Edmundo, Margarita 

    ix Bernardine M (1874-1943) married 1906 died w/out issue

    There is no one actually named 'Christina' amongst his nieces, just two who are approx the right age in 1913. Looking at Mervyn's wifes family, there are 3 sisters who are the right ages but obviously more distant from Mervyn, being Florences great neices (3 grand daughters of Frederick Charles Rasch, Florences eldest brother) and none of them are named 'Christina' either.

    The questions that are puzzling me are on the photographic side .. why do we only have these handful of photos from Mervyn ? If he was so keen a photographer, and had the money & time to partake of this expensive hobby, why so few photos ? Is it simply that there were many more but they've been lost or destroyed ?  How and when did these few come to be in possession of the Royal Photographic Society and do TRPS actually have more of his images in their archives, undiscovered ? For instance, there is a photo of 'Christina' in a red shirt and long black skirt standing against a flower/greenery covered wall, and there is another image of another, younger looking, girl in a green striped jumper against the identical wall (holding a bunch of flowers that 'Christina' is seen holding in an image of her sitting in a garden next to a pond).  Clearly taken on the same day, but of what seems to be two different girls.  

    Its a fascinating story to be sure, and I am hooked. I shall be following it with much interest !

This reply was deleted.

Blog Topics by Tags

Monthly Archives