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FROM LIFE:cover of From Life: Julia Margaret Cameron and Victorian Photography by Victoria Olsen


Called “savvy and scrupulously researched” by The New York Times, this is the first full-length biography of Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron to place her in historical and artistic context. After a conventional life as a wife and mother in British India, Cameron took up photography when she was 48 years old and never looked back. Her portraits of celebrities like Alfred Tennyson and Thomas Carlyle disrupted expectations for photography and caused controversy among critics who condemned her technique. This biography draws on unpublished letters and new research to put Cameron’s pioneering art and life in perspective.
*Please note that images in this ebook are not identical to those in the original hardcover.

 “[Cameron’s] most perceptive biographer of recent years, Victoria Olsen, gets the balance right: ‘Cameron could make perfectly focused images but she did not always want to.'”

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“…[a] savvy, scrupulously researched new biography. Ms. Olsen, a freelance scholar, offers  an  especially lucid description of Cameron’s arduous techniques, involving nasty chemicals, fragile glass plates and endless endurance.  The great strength of her book, though, is her argument that Cameron’s story is also, as she puts it, “the story of Victorian culture itself, and the development of mass media.”

The New York Times

“Victoria Olsen has written an excellent full scale biography which draws much of its strength from the considerable number of unpublished letters she has unearthed.”
Independent on Sunday

“…a well-written and deeply researched book in which Olsen makes skillful use of the voluminous Cameron correspondence and makes her subject…come vividly to life.”
The Times Higher Education Supplement

“Highly accomplished…Olsen’s biography of Cameron is particularly good at making us understand just how uncertain mid-Victorians were about what photography was actually for.”
Sunday Telegraph

“Victoria Olsen’s biographical account is deftly written and well-crafted, using the latest research and unpublished letters.”
The Independent

“Olsen patiently uncovers [Cameron’s interest in photography] that went back to the mid-1850’s and a series of contacts with other pioneers…well researched and decently illustrated.”
The Sunday Times

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May and Annie are sisters living on the Isle of Wight at the end of the nineteenth century, butthey couldn’t be more different. May is a great reader while Annie is “word blind” or dyslexic. After their mother dies these Victorian girls are forced to pool their skills in order to understand the gaps in their family history. An encounter with a mysterious uncle in London puts Annie in charge for a change, and leads to a surprising reconciliation.

Includes an appendix with a reader’s guide and sources.

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