Oxford

Thousands of William Henry Fox Talbot photos to go online

William Henry Fox Talbot Image copyright Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Image caption Portraits of Talbot feature in the collection of negatives

The complete photographic works by Victorian pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot is to be made available online.

The thousands of negatives and prints are being taken from Bodleian's Talbot archive and other collections.

It is hoped academics and members of the public will help to identify unknown people and buildings in the photographs.

The website is due to go live later this year.

It will include some of the first photographs of Oxford and material from Fox Talbot's The Pencil of Nature, the first book illustrated with photographs.

Image copyright The British Library Board
Image caption The Ashmolean Museum and the Taylorian Building, seen here in 1845, are among dozens of buildings pictured
Image copyright Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
Image caption The first photos of Oxford, including this print of Magdalen College in 1843, appear in the collection

Project leader Prof Larry J. Schaaf, from Bodleian Libraries, has spent 40 years researching the Victorian inventor.

Prof Schaaf said putting the material online would "help unlock the enormous artistic, documentary and technical information embodied in these images".

The Bodleian spent two years raising £2.1m needed to buy the private collection of letters, diaries and photographs which it acquired in October.

Image copyright William Talbott Hillman Collection
Image caption The ancient nunnery of Lacock Abbey supplied many photographic subjects for Talbot

Born in Melbury Abbas, Dorset, in 1800, Fox Talbot established the three primary elements of the photographic process: developing, fixing, and printing using paper coated with silver iodide.

He created the first photographic negative in 1835, taken from a window at his home in Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire.

During his career he created more than 4,500 images - about 25,000 of his original negatives and prints are thought to still exist.

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