Literary Photography

Browsing through an old diary yesterday, I came across the following entry: ‘Nicholas Monsarrat has just introduced two female characters into The Tribe That Lost its Head, photographers named Clandestine Lebourget and Noblesse O’Toole, would you believe.’ (16th December 1976).

This reminded me of an idea that I had a while back, to look at how photography and photographers are dealt with in literature. When do they first appear? Presumably not before around 1837 and the advent of the Dagurreotype. Do subsequent historical novels describe the use of the camera obscura and anticipate the invention of photography? Does it appear in Dickens? I recall photographers as protagonists in Picture Palace by Paul Theroux (1978) and Sweet Caress by William Boyd (2015). Is there an alternative history of photography as seen in literature to be written? I shall do some web searches.

I hope other novels portray photographers more sympathetically than Montsarrat, see extract below – and it gets much worse.

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