William Henry Fox Talbot

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Talbot, William Henry Fox,

1800–1877, English inventor of photographic processes (see photography, stillphotography, still,
science and art of making permanent images on light-sensitive materials.

See also photographic processing; motion picture photography; motion pictures.
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). A man of enormously versatile intelligence, he invented the "photogenic drawing" process in 1834. From 1841 on he patented his numerous processes for making negatives and positive prints, called calotypes and later talbotypes. His patents threatened to impede the technical progress of the medium and Talbot was forced to release his processes. His relationships with other early photographers and photographic inventors were very bitter. Talbot wrote The Pencil of Nature (1844), one of the first books illustrated with photographs. Interested also in archaeology, he was one of the first to decipher the cuneiform inscriptions at Nineveh.


See studies by A. Jammes (1974) and L. J. Schaaf (2000).

Talbot, William Henry Fox


Born Feb. 11, 1800, in Melbury House, Dorsetshire; died Sept. 17, 1877, near Chippenham, Wiltshire. English scientist and pioneer of photography. Member of the London Royal Society (1831).

Talbot, who was educated at Cambridge University, made known his discovery of the principles of photography in 1839. In 1841 he developed the calotype process, which consisted in recording an image on a light-sensitive layer that covered a sheet of paper (the negative), rather than a metal plate, as in the daguerreotype, and then transferring the image to another sheet of paper (the positive). In 1843, for the first time, he enlarged a positive print. By developing such a comparatively simple and inexpensive negative-to-positive method, Talbot opened the way to mass production in photography. He described his invention in The Pencil of Nature (1844), which he illustrated with his own photographs. Talbot also wrote works on physics, mathematics, astronomy, and archaeology.


[Evgenov, S. V.] Dager, N’eps, Tal’bot: Populiarnyi ocherk ob izobretateliakh fotografii. Moscow, 1938.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is difficult to single out individual items, but they include the notes, writings and experiments of William Henry Fox Talbot, which provide a deep insight into the imagery and thinking associated with the beginnings of modern photography; the extensive holdings of prints by Fenton, Cameron and Peter Henry Emerson; the myriad examples of photography's popular role, from early Daguerreotypes to the anonymous albums that tell us so much about photography's vital place in social life; the extraordinary range of photographic technologies and commercial ephemera; and recent work by important artists such as Martin Parr, Chris Killip, Graham Smith, Hannah Starkey, Susan Derges, Joan Fontcuberta, Richard Billingham and Luc Delahaye.
Within a few years of the announcement of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot set out details of his invention in his photographically illustrated book The Pencil of Nature (1844-46).
William Henry Fox Talbot, the grandson of the Reverend Davenport, was born at Lacock in 1800.
When news broke that plants from the voyages of Captain James Cook (1728-79), housed in the glasshouses, were being discarded, William Henry Fox Talbot expressed his concern first to Hooker, then to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and finally petitioned the Council of the Linnean Society, recommending that Kew Gardens be converted to a national garden.
Electronic transcriptions of the nearly ten thousand letters to and from Fox Talbot have recently been published by Glasgow University as The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot Project.
6) LA, letter from William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways to William Henry Fox Talbot, dated 31 July 1852, doc.
7) LA, letter from William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways, Naples to William Henry Fox Talbot, dated 22 August 1828, doc.
8) LA, letter from William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways, Abbotsbury to William Henry Fox Talbot, dated 9 March 1851, doc.
Disguising the fact that the first photograph was taken by a Frenchman in 1826, they concentrate on the work of William Henry Fox Talbot in England ten years later.