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William Henry Fox Talbot; Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science
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H J P Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot; Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science
(London: Hutchinson Benham, Ltd, 1977).

This book, the standard biography of Talbot, outlines the full range of his activities and interests. It is extensively documented and endnoted; the family trees and bibliography are a useful appendix. The illustrations, while numerous, are small and secondary to the text. Arnold's research was cut by about a third for publication (with the cuts mostly in non-photographic areas). The full unpublished text may be consulted in typescript at the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock and in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of The University of Texas at Austin.

Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography

Gail Buckland, Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography  (Boston: David R Godine, 1980).

Buckland, the former curator of the Royal Photographic Society collection, gives a lively and sensitive account of Talbot's activities, concentrating on photography. Whereas the text is less extensive and less documented than Arnold's, Buckland's selection of Talbot's images is superb. The quality of the monochromatic reproductions is uneven but the full colour reproductions give a very good sense of the originals.

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Out of the Shadows; Herschel, Talbot & the 
          Invention of Photography
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Larry J Schaaf, Out of the Shadows; Herschel, Talbot & the Invention of Photography
(London: Yale University Press, 1992).

This work examines the invention of photography from the contemporaneous points of view of Talbot and his scientific friend, Sir John Herschel. The progress of invention was governed not only by scientific and technical advances, but also by more mundane factors such as the weather, the inventor's state of health, and the misunderstandings common in human endeavours. This book contains numerous full-colour illustrations of very early Talbot and Herschel photographs.

My Life and Lacock Abbey

Matilda Talbot, My Life and Lacock Abbey
(London: George Allen and Unwin, Ltd, 1956).

Talbot's Scottish-born granddaughter changed her surname to Talbot when she inherited Lacock Abbey. More than anyone else, Matilda Talbot was responsible for preserving Talbot's archives and his photographic legacy and for inspiring scholars to study his work. Her title is accurately descriptive, and there is very little in this volume directly about Henry Talbot. However, it gives a good sense of the environment in which the inventor of photography worked.

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