The first British female press photographer and an unsung master of her craft, Christina Broom first published news photographs in 1903, as postcards. These images were sold from her stall at the gates of London’s Royal Mews, and submitted to Tatler, The Daily Sketch, Illustrated London News and Country Life, until she died in 1939. Despite her position in the history of photography, there has never been an exhibition dedicated to her – her work only included in the National Portrait Gallery’s 1994 exhibition of Edwardian woman photographers.
Broom was a formidable, determined woman, taking 40,000 photographs over her thirty-six year career and embracing political subjects such as Suffragette protests, First World War soldiers upon leaving and return and producing official photographs of the Household Brigade. She celebrated London events such as the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race, the Lord Mayor’s Parade, royal coronations and funerals, and even photographed the Royal Family.
It was unusual for a female photographer to venture out to capture high profile parades and processions, with most of Broom’s contemporaries confined to the studio; this was both Broom’s choice, a strong character, and a necessity as she was rendered the breadwinner of her family after her husband became unable to work.
Broom was commercially-astute, captalising on London’s rapidly growing postcard market, and bringing her daughter Winifred into the business as she aided in printing. The exhibition will explore Bloom the mother, wife, breadwinner and photographer in previously unseen works from private collections as well as her original glass plate negatives and postcards, and personal possessions including letters, autograph books, notebooks and her own cuttings books.
Soldiers and Suffragettes: the Photography of Christina Broom, 19 June –1 November, Museum of London Docklands, No.1 Warehouse, West India Dock Road, London E14 4AL. For more information visit www.museumoflondon.org.uk
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1. Christina Broom © Museum of London