British photographic history

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Resource: A Faithful Likeness: The first photographic portrait studios in the British Isles

Eric Butler writes...Many people will be aware of the A4 sized paperback book with the pale blue cover, A Faithful Likeness the very informative book by the late Pauline and Bernard Heathcote. It is frequently referenced in publications about early photographers. A Faithful Likeness: The First Photographic Studios in the British Isles 1841 to 1855, has now been made available online by Bromley House Library, Nottingham. It is also accompanied by a five-volume appendix.


Pauline Heathcote, supported by her husband Bernard, became a full-time researcher into early photographers and their studios. In her quest for information, she searched directories and wrote to librarians, archivists, museum curators and even descendants of the photographers. In addition, she also visited newspaper archives, scouring them for announcements, features, and advertisements relating to early photographers and their studios. Bernard and Pauline would travel around the country visiting archives or museums.

Bernard was, justifiably, extremely proud of his wife’s achievements and in 2015, ten years after her death, he donated the Pauline Heathcote Archive to Bromley House Library. The archive contains notes, letters, marriage and death certificates, and a large number of file index cards under the main headings Names, and Places. Today it is difficult to comprehend that such an extensive research archive had been compiled without using the internet. The archive has been available, by appointment, at Bromley House Library since 2015. Only a few people made use of this wonderful resource, possibly because they were familiar with the title A Faithful Likeness, but not with the name Heathcote.

Although published in 2002 and despite the advent of online resources A Faithful Likeness is still relevant today

Now Bromley House has made A Faithful Likeness and its 5 volume appendix available online. This significant publication lists over 800 photographers and the appendices comprise carefully referenced advertisements and editorial comment from newspapers throughout the country, from Aberdeen to York alphabetically. A total of over 600 pages.

Perhaps I should add that Bernard, until his death in 2020, was very protective of Pauline’s work and always insisted on appropriate acknowledgement!

Access the resource here:

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Comment by Michael Pritchard on February 21, 2022 at 13:11

I suspect it won't appear in paper but you could download the PDFs and get them bound. 

Comment by Paula Fleming on February 21, 2022 at 11:33

What an incredible resource and generous action by Bromley.  I've been chasing this publication for years!  Pauline and Bernard did an incredible job.  I'm so pleased it's all been saved and now made widely available.  Hope they will republish the book and appendices in paper.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on February 21, 2022 at 8:07

All credit to Bromley House, Eric Butler and the volunteers there.  

Comment by Geoff Barker on February 21, 2022 at 7:41
Thank you for sharing information about the wonderful resource.

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