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Happy Birthday William Henry Fox Talbot

Dale Wilson

Were William Henry Fox Talbot alive today he would be celebrating his 220th birthday.

William Henry Fox Talbot


Talbot had been experimenting with making photogenic drawings, as he called them at that time, from 1834 until his presentation to the Royal Society on January 1839.  Talbot only made his process known to the public after Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s process was announced in Paris.

While Daguerre, through his friend and agent   François Arago, sought to sell his patent rights to the French government, Talbot was aggressively presenting his paper process to English audiences in an effort to license his process for financial reward.

 The noted botanist Dr Golding Bird obviously attended Talbot’s lectures. Dr Bird adjusted Talbot’s formulae slightly and drew particular reference to having formulated a fixing agent superior to Talbot’s method. Dr Bird’s treatise was published in the British Magazine of Natural History and then reprinted in the Halifax broadsheet The Colonial Pearl on 31 May 1839. 

On 7 June 1839, the publisher of The Colonial Pearl announced “We are glad to find that our notice of the new art of sun painting in our last, has excited considerable interest among our readers. One of our friends who read the article has since formed several photogenic pictures with ease and success.” This published document suggests Halifax was the first location in British North America to have made a photographic image.


Evergreen Program Support Building

Over the past few months volunteers have been working in all manner of weather to complete a Program Support Building. The building will be used to enhance programming at Nova Scotia's Dartmouth Heritage Museum, including instruction in early photographic processes. The photographer will note the value of the roof skylight.

The grand opening of this new facility is currently in planning stages. However, it will be a date between 31 May and 7 June, 2020 ... and the 181st anniversary of William Henry Fox Talbot’s process first recorded successful photogenic drawing in British North America.




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