- Christina Broom taught herself photography aged of 40 after her husband had an accident and was unable to work
- She initially sold picture postcards, but became famous after photographing the winner of the 1903 Epsom Derby
- She became the unofficial photographer of the Household Brigade in 1904 and took pictures of men going off to war
- Among the soldiers she photographed was Jack Kipling, son of Rudyard Kipling, who died at the Battle of Loos
- She also took pictures at George V’s coronation and captured 30 years of the Oxford Cambridge boat race
- Around 2,500 of her prints have been donated to the Museum of London, where a selection will go on display
20:33, 31 March 2014
21:19, 31 March 2014
The early 1900s may have been a man’s world, but one woman who was making an impact was Britain’s first press photographer, Christian Broom.
Working under the name of Mrs Albert Broom, she only took up photography aged 40 after a cricket accident left her husband unable to work and made her the breadwinner of the family.
But her images eventually became so well known that she began selling them to newspapers, and she went on to take pictures of soldiers leaving for the First World War, King Edward VII lying in state and the coronation of George V.
Christine Broom was the unofficial photographer of the Household Brigade and captured images of soldiers off to fight in the First World War. Those young men included Jack Kipling (third from left) son of Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling. Jack was killed a year after this image was taken and his father later wrote a poem about his grief, called My Boy Jack
Mrs Broom only took to photography aged 40 as a way to earn money after her husband became injured. This image shows soldiers from the Household Battalion leaving Waterloo station in 1916
In this picture, wounded soldiers attend a tea party held by King George V at Buckingham Palace. Mrs Broom became a favourite of the Royals, was one of only two people allowed to photograph King Edward VII lying in state, and also took pictures at George V’s coronation
After her husband’s accident, and with a daughter, Winifred, to support,
Mrs Broom taught herself plate photography in the hope of selling
picture postcards which were becoming increasingly popular.
Using a coal cellar as her darkroom, Mrs Broom found early success with her venture, and in 1903 talked her way into photographing the winning horse at the Epsom derby which got her noticed.
She then became the photographer of the Household Brigade from 1904 until her death in 1939, and during that time took pictures of troops heading off to fight on the Western Front during the First World War.
Among her subjects were Rudyard Kipling’s son, Jack. He was barred from entering the Army because of his terrible eyesight, but his father pulled strings so he was allowed to go.
Men from the 2nd Grenadier Guards pose with a Bermondsey B’hoys placard outside Wellington Barracks sometime between 1914 and 1915. As well as photographing soldiers, Mrs Broom documented 30 years of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race
Christina Broom (left) took pictures from 1904 until she died in 1939. Despite her slightly steely appearance, her pictures stood out because of the relaxed nature of the subjects. Experts suggest that, had a man been taking the pictures, the soldiers (right) would have appeared more stiff and professional-looking
These images form part of a collection of 2,500 pictures that have been handed over to the Museum of London which will form part of a new exhibition
A year after Mrs Broom took his picture, Jack was killed at the battle of Loos. His distraught father later wrote about his guilt in letting his son go to war in the poem My Boy Jack.
That print is just one of 2,500 acquired by the Museum of London, some of which are going on display as part of an exhibition which will take place from Friday April 4.
As well as capturing the Household Brigade for 35 years, Mrs Broom also documented 30 years of the Cambridge and Oxford boat race down the Thames, photographed the Suffragette marches through the capital, and gained access to the Royal Family.
Captain Greer (centre) of the 1st Irish Guards and his machine gun team group together for a formal photograph, just before leaving for the war. They were all killed in battle soon afterwards.
Wounded patients from King Edward VII’s Hospital for Officers visit the Royal Mews in 1915. Originally set up after the Boer War by two sisters, the hospital treated injured officers during the First World War at its premises in Grosvenor Gardens
The 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards prepare for war at the Wimbledon Common training camp in 1914. Lieutenant HRH the Prince of Wales can be seen inspecting the field kitchen, having marched there from Wellington Barracks
She was one of only two people allowed to photograph Edward VII lying in state, and also photographed the coronation of George V. Her pictures were widely used by newspapers of the day, with a credit to Mrs Albert Broom.
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Museum of Londonâs curator of photographs, Anna Sparham, said: ‘Whilst Broomâs images exude strength and relevance on their own, for me, it is the photographerâs own fascinating story of determination and entrepreneurialism that makes them truly come alive.‘
MY BOY JACK: FATHER’S GRIEF AT LETTING HIS BOY LEAVE TO FIGHT A WAR THAT WOULD KILL HIM ONE YEAR LATER
John Kipling – known to friends and family as Jack – featured in one of Mrs Broom’s photographs, and was the only son of Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling.
Born in 1897, Jack was eager to see service in the First World War and tried to join the Royal Navy, but was rejected because of his severe short-sightedness.
However his father pulled some strings with his friend 1st Earl Roberts who was head of the British Army, and Jack was allowed to join up.
In September of 1915 Jack was reported as ‘wounded or missing’ during the Battle of Loos. Despite frantic searches by his parents, he was never seen alive again.
In 1922, his body was reportedly traced to a grave in Haisnes, though uncertainty still remains as to whether it is actually him.
In the same year his son vanished, Kipling senior wrote My Boy Jack, a poem expressing his guilt over allowing his son to go and fight.
It was included at the start of his book Sea Warfare written about the Battle of Jutland in 1916. It has inspired a play, a film and a TV series of the same name. For the televised version, Daniel Radcliffe played the part of Jack.
Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the poem My Boy Jack after the death of his only son in the First World War
MY BOY JACK
‘Have you news of my boy Jack?’
Not this tide.
‘When dâyou think that heâll come back?’
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
‘Has any one else had word of him?’
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
‘Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?’
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind â
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
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