Victor Prout

Victor Prout’s floating darkroom, Windsor

Thanks to JulieW for telling me about photographer Victor Prout – she has been reading Diane Setterfield’s Once Upon a River, which includes a character based on Prout.  Prout (1835-77) was active in the 1860s, the specialising in pictures of high society, including the Prince and Princess of Wales. He is now recognised more for his architectural studies of iconic landmarks and in particular for a series of images made along the Thames.  He built a makeshift darkroom on a boat and travelled up and down the river, processing his wet plate negatives and making albumen prints as he went along.  He claimed to have invented a panoramic camera.

Thylacine Bagged

Prout spent his professional career between England and Australia and may be the author of a poignant picture, Thylacine Bagged – he stayed in Tasmania briefly in the late 1860s.  According to Frances Hodgson: ‘Victor Prout came back from Australia raving so badly from the madness known then as General Paralysis of the Insane (the tertiary stage of syphilis) that he had at one time on the voyage to be tied to the mast of his ship. He died in April 1877 at the Sussex Lunatic Asylum in Haywards Heath.’  (

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