Victorian Photography

Photography by William Henry Wills and Henry Morley

Extracts from an article published in Household Words (a journal edited by the novelist Charles Dickens) on 19th March 1853

[ABOVE] William Henry Wills (1810-1880) The co-author of the article "Photography", which was published in Charles Dickens' journal "Household Words" on 19th March 1853.William Henry Wills was born in Plymouth, Devon in 1810. As a journalist he contributed to a number of periodicals and journals, including Punch magazine and Chambers Journal. In 1846, William Wills became a sub-editor on The Morning News, a newspaper founded by the famous novelist Charles Dickens. Wills' work on The Morning News, was the beginning of a long association with Charles Dickens. In 1849, William Wills became a contributor and sub-editor on "Household Words", a weekly magazine "conducted" by Charles Dickens. The above photograph of William Wills was taken by G. Gitry (?) and later published by the photographic engraver Emery Walker (1851-1933)

[ABOVE] Henry Forster Morley (1822-1894), the co-author of the article "Photography", which was published in Charles Dickens' journal "Household Words" on 19th March 1853. Although trained as a medical practitioner, Henry Morley was primarily interested in education and literature and in the late 1840s he established a school in Cheshire In 1851, Henry Morley accepted Dicken's invitation to join the staff of "Household Words". Henry Morley later became a Professor of English Literature at University College and established a reputation as an outstanding lecturer and educator.


"We have been ringing artists' bells.  We have been haunting the dark chambers of photographers.  We have found those gentlemen - our modern high priests of Apollo, the old sun god - very courteous, and not at all desirous to forbid to the world's curiosity a knowledge of their inmost mysteries ...

[ABOVE ] An early daguerreotype studio, as depicted in an engraving by George Cruikshank in 1842. The original woodcut appeared with the title "PHOTOGRAPHIC PHENOMENA, OR THE NEW SCHOOL OF PORTRAIT-PAINTING" in George Cruikshank's Omnibus, published in 1842. Early photographic studios were often situated at the very top of a building and had a glass roof to let in as much light as possible. At the top left of the picture, the subject sits on a posing chair placed on a raised platform, which could be rotated to face the light. The sitter's head is held still by a clamp. Two simple box cameras have been placed on a high shelf, directly opposite the sitter's head. The photographer can be seen standing on the step-ladder in the centre of the illustration. The photographer has opened the door of the camera to expose the sensitized metal plate to the light. The photographer examines his watch as he times the exposure.
















[ABOVE] William Henry Wills (1810-1880), journalist and co-author of the Household Words article "Photography", pictured in a carte-de-visite portrait produced around 1862.

[ABOVE ] A woodcut engraving showing a photographer taking a daguerreotype portrait (c1843). This picture appeared in the Illustrated London News. This illustration is based on a daguerreotype photograph taken at Richard Beard's studio at the Royal Polytechnic Institution at 309 Regent Street, London, which showed Jabez Hogg taking a likeness of Mr William S. Johnson in 1843.