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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William John Thoms

Dates:  1803 - 1885
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for William John Thoms
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Although Thomsís first job was as a clerk in a hospital, his real passion was literature and especially bibliography. At twenty-four, still a clerk, he published Early Prose Romances, and he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1838. He finally left the hospital in 1845 to take a position as clerk at the House of Lords, bringing him in regular contact with influential people. After several publication ventures, he realized his dream in 1849, establishing the journal Notes and Queries. Primarily designed to serve the needs of antiquarians and historians, this periodical was a vehicle not only for news about what was old but also for correspondence on what was new. Many important photographic contributions and speculations first appeared in its pages. Perhaps this is what stimulated Thomsís interest in photography. His first exhibited work was a collodion portrait in 1852, but at the 1854 Photographic Society exhibition in London he also showed calotypes of architectural subjects. All of his entries in the societyís 1855 exhibition were Talbotypes. He contributed others, including a calotype of Stonehenge, to the 1855 and 1856 Photographic Exchange Club albums. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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