William Henry Fox Talbot collection: Bodleian Library launches campaign

William Fox Henry Talbot negative The collection includes negatives of Talbot himself

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A research library needs to raise £2.2m by the end of February for the archive of the "founder of photography".

The Bodleian in Oxford has already been awarded £1.2m by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) to acquire the William Henry Fox Talbot collection.

It describes the manuscripts, letters, diaries and photographs as "the only significant Talbot collection remaining in private hands".

If the Bodleian acquires the archive it will launch an exhibition in 2017.

The collection, which is being sold off, includes material from The Pencil of Nature, the first book illustrated with photographs.

Richard Ovenden, deputy to Bodley's librarian, said: "The archive is an essential resource for scholars on the history of photography, the history of science and a range of other disciplines.

"The Bodleian is anxious to ensure that the collection is made available to scholars and to the general public."

'Fascinating insights'
Calotype negative of Queen’s College, Oxford The archive contains several early photographic images of Oxford

Carole Souter, chief executive of NHMF, said: "Considered by many as the 'father of photography', the impact of William Henry Fox Talbot's pioneering work is felt daily by all of us whether we are snapping our holidays with a camera or capturing outings on our mobile phones.

"This collection offers fascinating new insights into Fox Talbot's family life, particularly the wonderful contribution made by the women of his family."

The library's campaign has been backed by photographers Hiroshi Sugimoto and Martin Parr.

Mr Sugimoto said it would promote "appreciation of this great innovator, stimulate new art and other forms of creativity and broaden our understanding of the founder of a field of communication that has changed our world."

The archive includes an image made by Talbot's wife, Constance, in 1839, which may be the earliest image made by a woman.

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