Sunday, 6 September 2009

A Country Camera 1844 - 1914 by Gordon Winter

A Country Camera 1844 - 1914 by Gordon Winter
Originally published 1966 reprinted by Penguin 1975

The earlier companion piece to Winter's A Cockney Camera, this wonderful collection is slightly less well organised than the latter volume, and sadly there seem to be fewer names attached to the folks in the photos. That aside however, this is another gem of a collection with some quite magnificent portraits and location shots. The cover, for example, is given over to a most impressive shot taken in 1857 of one Robert Morvinson who was born when the United States were still a British Colony!

Accompanying the photos is Winter's warm and informative text, giving information about the social context of the times, the people who were either in the photo or responsible for it being taken, and often some entertaining stories of how some of the sharpest early shots were located - including several that had been used as cloches in someone's vegetable garden!

Sometimes it is the fascinating locations shots that really grip the reader - such as the stunning street panorama of Castle Street, Farnham in the 1880s - other times it is the portraits that tell their stories of hardship, elegance, and bygone fashions which draw you in. But there's always something new to be found in the collection each time you browse through.

Covering all sorts of topics, such as old Crafts and Trades, village occasions, people at work and lesiure, hiring fairs, country 'sports', various forms of transport and all sorts of buildings from churches to pubs, this book will offer insights into the lives of our rural forbears in many different ways, and really bring home some of the occasions and feelings that we can only otherwise read about.

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