Norfolk

Olive Edis: WW1 photographer's work brought together in archive

Olive Edis Image copyright Norfolk Museums Service
Image caption Olive Edis died in 1955 at the age of 79

The work of Britain's first female war photographer is being brought together in an online archive.

Olive Edis, from Sheringham in Norfolk, captured unique photographs of women on the Western Front at the end of World War One.

The archive, made possible by a £81,000 Heritage Lottery grant, will also bring together Edis's other work, including portraits of royal family members.

It will be made available to view on the Norfolk Museums Service website.

Edis, born in 1876, was regarded as a photographic pioneer, being an early user of the Lumiere brothers' autochrome technique and taking some of the first colour photographs of Canada.

Image copyright Norfolk Museums Service
Image caption Edis captured many photographs during the war including this shot of Ypres Cloth Hall in Belgium

Famous figures she photographed included Liberal prime minister David Lloyd George, Prince Albert, who became George VI, socialite Nancy Astor, the first director general of the BBC John Reith, and social reformer Henrietta Barnett.

Her skills were recognised by the Imperial War Museum, which commissioned her to photograph people and the effects of World War One, particularly focusing on women and their changing roles in the armed services.

The online archive will be brought together from her work currently based at Cromer Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, among others.

It will feature photos and journals from the Western Front and portraits of royalty, prime ministers and fishermen in her native Norfolk.

Image copyright Norfolk Museums Service
Image caption A young Duke of Edinburgh was also captured by Olive Edis during her career

The project will also transform the world's largest collection of her work at Cromer, allowing visitors to use smartphone and touchscreen technology to explore the physical collection and take photos using the techniques she utilised.

Hilary Cox, Norfolk county councillor for Cromer, said the funding would help highlight the "courage, expertise and excellence" of a woman who should be a household name.

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