The Thorn photographers were pioneers of the art in Bude, in Cornwall. This book celebrates their
enormous contribution to Cornish history.
Over 250 fantastic images taken from their original
glass negatives, many never before published, show the landscape, seascape and shipwrecks, of
north Cornwall, as it was in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, packed with
personalities and characters, recalling the hard but gentle pace of Cornish life as well as the
incidents that live on in the memory of the Cornish people.
The advent of photography captured
the moment as it was. We are transported back to an age often regarded as romantic. However,
life was so different from ours today: we have glimpses of the trials and tribulations of the time.
Harry Thorn was the first photographer in Bude village, as it then was, in the 1850s (population
around 600). He started to record the events of the day.
Inevitably these included many
shipwrecks which were a common occurrence.
Thorn did not have the advantage of wealth - his
father was a carpenter and he was one of ten children, but he started a career in photography from
very little and became accomplished at the new art. He was a true pioneer for Bude in a field with
many hazards, particularly the chemicals used, about which not a lot was understood. It is
probable that the chemicals led to his early death, at the age of thirty-eight, in 1876.
In the 1860s he was joined by his sister, brother and later his niece, who carried on the business
after his death until 1928. Between them they have left us with a wonderful pictorial record
of the area from Clovelly to Tintagel.
After 1900, many of their photographs were printed as Postcards
which immediately appealed to collectors and this continues today.
Their legacy to Cornwall
has not yet been fully appreciated – this book will give them the recognition they deserve.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 1 906690 63 2, hardback, 238x258mm, 144 pages. Published November 2016.