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Stereocard depicting Capellen and the Castle of Stolzenfels, by William England, c. 1866. IL.2003.44.6.266

William England

William England (1816 or 1830-1896) was the chief photographer for the London Stereoscopic Company between 1858 and 1863, after which he operated independently. He was an extremely skilled photographer, especially in landscape, architecture, interiors and sculpture.

Sources differ on his date of birth: either 1816 or 1830; he died in London in 1896.

Stereocard, L’Ile de St Jules a Orta, Italie, from the series Views of Italy, Switzerland and Savoy, photographed by William England, by permission dedicated to the Alpine Club, 1863. IL.2003.44.6.1067 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

William England began his career as a daguerreotypist before joining the London Stereoscopic Company in 1854. As their chief photographer he explored Ireland, the USA, Canada and Paris to photograph views of exotic locations, including urban and commercial vistas as well as the natural drama of geography.

England’s 1859 photograph of a French tightrope walker and acrobat Charles Blondin crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope became the best-selling stereograph of all time with over 100,000 copies sold worldwide.

Stereocard, Les Chiens de l’Hospice du Grand St Bernard, Suisse, from the series Views of Switzerland, photographed by William England, by permission dedicated to the Alpine Club, c. 1863 - 1868. IL.2003.44.6.1178 Image © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

In 1863 England left the London Stereoscopic Company but continued to work as a photographer documenting continental European views, notably in France, Switzerland and Italy. His stereos remained popular in Britain and across the continent, in particular his images from the Chamonix Glacier, several of which can be seen here.

Stereocard, Grandes Crevasses sur la Mer de Glace, Chamounix, Savoie, from the series Views of Switzerland, photographed by William England, by permission dedicated to the Alpine Club, c. 1863 - 1868. IL.2003.44.6.1158. © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Stereocard, L’Aiguille Dru prise du Montanvert, Chamounix, Savoie, from the series Views of Italy, Switzerland and Savoy, photographed by William England, by permission dedicated to the Alpine Club, 1863. IL.2003.44.6.1069. © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Stereocard, Le Quai de Lucerne, Suisse, from the series Views of Switzerland, photographed by William England, by permission dedicated to the Alpine Club, c. 1863 - 1868. IL.2003.44.6.1102 © Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

Further reading:

The World of Stereographs by William C. Darrah. W.C. Darrah Publisher, Gettysburg, PA. 1977.

Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography, by John Hannavy, Routledge, 2008

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This article is from the free online course:

Stereoscopy: An Introduction to Victorian Stereo Photography

The University of Edinburgh