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William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800–1877)


Source: Oxford University Press

English photographer, inventor and scientist. He was educated at Harrow School and the University of Cambridge and was an outstanding scholar and a formidable mathematician. His scientific interest in nature and natural phenomena, including botany and horticulture, was complemented by studies of Assyriology, etymology and the Classics. Talbot published well over 50 scientific papers and took out 12 English patents; he became a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society at the age of 22 and a Fellow of the Royal Society when he was only 31. Although a gentleman, he was neither a great landowner nor exceptionally rich by the standards of the day. He took over the ancestral home, Lacock Abbey, Wilts, in 1826 and married Constance Mundy in 1832; they had three daughters and a son. Talbot briefly became MP for Chippenham, but he did not pursue a Parliamentary career. He was a shy and reticent man, but he was not the cold, grasping figure portrayed by some historians. He was greatly admired by those who knew him well, and he was loved and respected by family and friends.

© 2009 Oxford University Press


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