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Document number: 3816
Date: Thu 21 Feb 1839
Dating: date editorially assigned
Recipient: GROVE William Robert
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: George Eastman House Rochester NY
Collection number: AC T142 acc9034/6010
Last updated: 26th February 2010

[this is partial sheet of paper and some text might well be missing]

44 Queen Ann St. <1>
Thursday evening

Dear Sir

I have described all the essential parts of my process <2> in a paper <3> read to the Royal Society <4> today, & which will be given I believe in the Literary Gazette <5> of next Saturday. Of my former paper read on the 31st January, I will send you a printed copy.

As you cannot command sunshine in London, I would recommend your making trial of your galvanic light, <6> since I know that it was found to succeed with Mr Daniell’s <7> battery. the

The experiment which is most likely to interest the public is to form the picture of some simple object, as for instance a pattern of lace, by the light of your galvanic battery, which I should think would succeed & if it does so you can always have it at command; whereas the sun would be sure to fail you in a climate like this & with our smoky atmosphere –

Experiments with the Camera obscura <8> would not answer for public exhibition.

I remain Yours very truly
Henry Fox Talbot


1. 44 Queen Ann Street: London home of the Mundy family and a frequent base for WHFT.

2. Photogenic drawing.

3. WHFT, ‘An Account of the Processes Employed in Photogenic Drawing,’ read 21 February 1839, which dates this letter. The paper was first published in The Athenaeum (London), 23 February 1839, no. 591, p. 156; it was also published in The Literary Gazette and Journal of belles lettres, science and art, 25 February 1839, no. 1153, p. 124.

4. Royal Society of London.

5. The Literary Gazette and Journal of belles lettres, science and art.

6. Grove invented a platinum–zinc voltaic cell in 1839, and with it he demonstrated the electric arc light at the London Institution.

7. The ‘constant battery’, a zinc–copper voltaic cell, designed by John Frederic Daniell (1790–1845), and described in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1836.

8. WHFT had experimented with light-sensitive paper in a camera obscura in 1834 and 1835, but it was not until he had devised a more photo-sensitive coating for paper that camera photography became practical. Negative images of lace, botanical specimens etc. could however be obtained without a camera by a contact process in which the specimen was placed directly upon photogenic-drawing paper [a printing-out paper] and exposed to sunlight. The action of the light caused the paper to darken where not shielded by the object.

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