*** photography and publishing: photographers -- William Morris Grundy

Photographers: William Morris Grundy (England, 1806-59)

William Morris Grundy
Figure 1.-- The caption here read,"A poor but eager family sits at the bottom of the stone steps - awaiting the opportunity to ask for work in trade for room and board, on an adjacent (and rather successful) property." It is not clear where the father is.

William Morris Grundy was born in Birmingham (1806). We have been able to find little information about him. Grundy was an artist. Several atists took an interest in ohotography. He does not seem to have been highly regarded. His art work today sells for nominal amounts. He moved to Sutton Coldfield, at the time a small town near Birmingham (1850). It was there he took up photography as a hobby (1855). This was not an easy or inexpernsive undertaking. Given that he was not a particularly sucessful artist, he apparently was a man of independent means. His interest was in recording rural life at the time. Moist photographrerts recorded studio images. Photographing outside the studio at the time required a horse-drawn waggon to carry his equiment and chemicals. Thus the images he captured are very rare and valuable historical documents. Most of what we read about at the time is urban England and the terrible conditions in the cities. Thus images from the counytryside are of particular interest. The indudtrial Revolutiom was reshaping the face of England during he Vicorian era. Much of England was, horver, still very rural. Conditions in the country side was causing the landless poor to migrate to the growing cities. In other instances, landowners were forceing tennnts off their land. Much of the land was owned by the aristoicracy who inherited rural estates. Until the 19th century, land and agriculture was the primary source of wealth. The aristocracy lived in comfortable estates tended to by domestic staff who had few other employment opportunities. Successful businessmen and indudtriaslidt commonly invested their earnings in land which by the end of the century had significantly transformed land ownwership patterns. Grundy recorded rural life in England during the mid-Victorian era. He took severl hundred stereoscopic photos, alhough only few hace survived. Because of the slow emussions, even ikn the sunshin, they had to be posed. There could not be any movement. They depict real people he enciunteted, dressed in their normal just as he found them. Thus we have wonderful images of country life, people engaged in rustic pursuits including chatting, gleaning, hunting, fishing, and farming. One subject that we do mot notice is schools. England at the time did not yet have a national school system and most schools were located in cities and towns. The new London Stereoscopic Company purchased 200 or do of his negatives and some of hids stereographs have survived. Grundy's photography is best known for 20 albumen prints used to illustrate an anthology: Sunshine in the Country, A Book of Rural Poetry Embellished with Photographs from Nature publlished after Gundy's death (1861). This is belived to be first poetry anthologhy to be published with illustrative photographs.

We have archived several Grundy images on HBC illistrating:





Summer day


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Created: 1:19 PM 3/9/2022
Last updated: 7:06 AM 3/11/2022