About the Author

 
Originally issued as an Appendix to the pamphlet
The Arrival of the Daguerreotype in New York
published by the American Photographic
Historical Society, New York in December 1994.

Although R. Derek Wood has by profession worked in London in laboratories of electron microscopy in biomedical research, he has long been fascinated by the earliest years of photography and the pre–history of the subject. When seeking to establish what reality might lie behind insubstantial stories in photographic histories about supposed pre–1839 experiments on photography by the Rev. J. B. Reade in England (a study published in Annals of Science in 1971), he particularly realised that contemporary sources do not accord with standard accounts of the beginnings of photography based more on later photographic literature. He believes that our understanding of those beginnings are greatly constrained by concepts too much centred on W. H. F. Talbot, and hopes in the future to try to readjust those parameters. Publications have included work on the significance of gallic acid in the first years (Journal of Photographic Science, January 1980), and  on both calotype and daguerreotype patents derived from legal documents of the 1840s and early 1850s (Annals of Science, March and September 1971, History of Photography, October 1979). After an interval of more than a decade entirely away from the subject, Derek Wood has recently returned to research with a study of the Diorama in Great Britain in the 1820s (History of Photography, Autumn 1993). Daguerreotype themes are dealt with in a linked series of articles awaiting publication on the financial aspects of Daguerre's dioramas in the 1830s and the fire at the diorama in Paris in March 1839 (Photoresearcher, in press), on the progress through the French Parliament of the Bill to award a pension to Daguerre,  and an annotated bibliography of Arago's lecture on 19 August 1839. A companion article to the present essay provides a link between the arrival of the daguerreotype in South America with the first daguerreoype to be taken in Australia: 'The voyage of Captain Lucas' appears in the New Zealand Journal of Photography in August 1994. Research amongst records of the British Foreign Office has revealed some information about photocopying done in London in January 1843 on the chinese–character protocol of the Treaty of Nanking and two articles written on this subject are expected to appear next year.


Comment by Bill Mail, editor of
NZ Journal of Photography (May 1995, Nr.19, p.15)
on the occasion of the publication of
R. Derek Wood's article on ‘John W. Winter's photograph Album’.

The day before I [Bill Main, editor] left for Europe last year, I received a folder containing a selection of photocopy photographs, in an album compiled by John Winter for his brother James, from Joan Woodward of the Canterbury Museum. This was accompanied by a letter which asked if I could give an opinion on the album and identify the photographers named in the volume, namely Winter, Hicks and Dawson.
As all the photographs were of English scenes, I bundled them in with my ESHoP conference papers [European Society for the History of Photography, Symposium in Oslo 1994] knowing that there would be no better chance to answer the questions posed by referring them to any number of experts I would encounter in my travels abroad.
After I'd shown the file to a well known London dealer in 19th century photographs with no success, I then went off to Oslo where I met up with Derek Wood, a researcher who is based in London and had written what must surely rank as the definitive piece on Captain Lucas of the Justine and his daguerreotype exploits in the South Pacific, NZ Joumal of Photography August 1994. While he, naturally, was unable to produce an immediate response to my inquiries regarding this album, he promised he'd work on the problem and let me know his findings in good time.
Then it was back to Britain and Bradford where I thought all would be revealed. Alas, this did not prove to be the case. Despite the fact that Roger Taylor, the curator of photography at the National Museum of Photography Film and Television had several hundred names on computer concerning those who practised photography in England from the early 1840s to the 1860s, he was unable to bring up Winter or Hicks or Dawson. A short visit to Bath and the Royal Photographic Society produced a similar result, but Debbie Ireland did make a note of the nature of my inquiry and subsequently found reference to a Mr Winter in a Christies sale. This was the first positive lead I'd had. ...
Then the floodgates opened. Derek began to send me letters to New Zealand that contained names, dates, facts and sources in such profundity that it seemed as if he'd always had this information at his very fingertips. Yet I know it wasn't like this at all. The most endearing part of his research was his enthusiasm for visiting the various locations that were depicted in the album. These were forwarded to me to prove various points in his text which appears in this issue of the Journal...


[Back to previous page]  R. D. Wood's  Midley History of Early Photography: [Home Page]