Roger Taylor, MVO born 1940, is a curator, photographic historian, and educator specialising in nineteenth century British photography and its social and cultural history. He is Professor Emeritus of Photographic History at De Montfort University.
His education continued at Derby College of Art where he joined the college in 1966, initially as a technician and part-time lecturer prior to taking the final year of the course. In 1967 he secured a First Class Diploma in Creative Photography, and this led to his appointment as full-time lecturer at Sheffield School of Art where he remained until 1983. During his tenure he progressed to senior lecturer and finally, in 1981, Director of Studies for the BA [Hons] Fine Art course.
Encouraged by the urban historian Jim Dyos, Taylor took a sabbatical to attend the post-graduate course in Victorian Studies at Leicester University, in 1974 to 1976. This experience fundamentally shaped his approach to photographic history. He gained a MA in Victorian Studies in 1977 for his thesis on George Washington Wilson.
It was during his time at Sheffield and Leicester that Taylor began to develop his interest in photographic history and in 1983 he became an associate lecturer as this allowed him to work independently as a freelance curator, notably for The Royal Collection and the Howard and Jane Ricketts Collection.
As the series or for World Microfilms Publications between 1978 and 1981, he was closely involved with the development of a number of early research resources in photographic history. Taylor encouraged the inclusion of 19th century photographic journals, scientific texts, and significant collections of photographs. These were microfilmed and made commercially available, principally to academic institutions throughout the world, where they underpinned a whole generation of research.
Following early retirement in 1996 Taylor devoted his attention to the evolution of early photography in Britain, and was awarded a number research fellowships and scholarships in America and Canada in support of this. In 2002, he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, became a professor in 2005, and Emeritus in 2009. During his time at De Montfort he ed three online research resources for photographic historians.
As an independent advisor Taylor was invited to help secure the future of three collections for the public domain: the Fay Godwin collection, for the British Library in 2007; The Talbot Collection for the British Library in 2009; and the Kodak Research Library, for De Montfort University library's Special Collections in 2009.
Drawing on his museum and curatorial experience Taylor also served in a number of specialist advisory roles. These include membership of the Bodleian Library's Talbot Catalogue Raisonné advisory board.
Taylor has written extensively on the social history of Victorian photography, and curated exhibitions in nineteenth century photography.
Awards and fellowships
He was awarded the J. Dudley Johnson Award for sustained contribution to the field of photographic history by the Royal Photographic Society in 2007. In 2010 he was invited as Edmund J. Safra Visiting Professor at CASVA, National Gallery of Art, Washington. The University of Derby awarded him an Hon DFA in 2014. He was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) 'for services to the Royal Collection' in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Other projects and activities
As a personal project in 2009 Taylor was involved with establishing ‘The Gallery on the Green’ in a refurbished British Telecom telephone box in Settle, North Yorkshire. As a curator of the gallery, he attracted a wide range of contributors, including well-known photographers and collectors.
Roger Taylor, Samuel Bourne, 1834-1912: photographic views in India. [exhibition catalogue]. Sheffield, Sheffield City Polytechnic, 1980.
Roger Taylor, George Washington Wilson: artist and photographer 1823-93. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1981.
Frances Dimond and Roger Taylor, Crown & Camera: the royal family and photography 1842-1910. Harmondsworth: Penguin Publications, 1987.
Roger Taylor, with Michael Bakewell, Some Other Occupation, Lewis Carroll and Photography, British Council, 1998.
Roger Taylor. Photographs exhibited in Britain 1839-1865: a compendium of photographers and their works / Photographies exposées en Grande-Bretagne de 1839-1865: répertoire des photographes et des leurs oeuvres,, Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2002.
Roger Taylor and Edward Wakeling, Lewis Carroll, photographer: the Princeton University library albums. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Roger Taylor, with Gordon Baldwin, Malcolm Daniel, Sarah Greenough, All the mighty world. The photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852-1860. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004.
Roger Taylor, with Larry Schaaf, Impressed by light: British photographs from paper negatives, 1840-1860. London: Yale University Press, 2007.
Roger Taylor, with Dominique de Font-Réaulx, L'image révélée: premières photographies sur papier en Grande-Bretagne, (1840-1860), Paris: Chaudun: Musée d'Orsay, 2008.
Roger Taylor and Crispin Branfoot, Captain Linnaeus Tripe: photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860, Munich: DelMonico, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 2014.
Roger Taylor, George Washington Wilson: artist and photographer 1823-93, With an introduction by Brian May, London Stereoscopic Company, 2018.
Articles and papers
Roger Taylor, 'Priority & Precedence, The Graphic Society and Photography, 1839', History of Photography, Vol 23, 1, Spring, 1999.
Roger Taylor, ‘Introduction’, in Sun pictures. Catalogue Ten. British paper negatives, 1839-1864, New York, Hans P Kraus Jr, 2001.
Roger Taylor and Dr Mike Ware, 'Pilgrims of the Sun, The chemical evolution of the calotype, 1840-1852', History of Photography, vol 27, 4, Winter 2003.
Photographic history resources
The Victorian Photograph Collection at Windsor Castle, World Microfilm Publications, 1979.
Rare Books and Publications on Photography,World Microfilm Publications, 1979.
The Photograph Collection, The Victoria & Albert Museum, World Microfilm Publications, 1980