A LIFE IN PICTURES – Snapshot of Victorian Photographer, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941)

In October 2017 I was at the Goth weekender held in Whitby on the North East UK coast. The town was revelling in the darker side of life, people walking around in colourful costumes celebrating the dead.

The reason behind the spooky theme is the town’s connection to Dracula. In 1890 writer Bram Stoker stayed in the town where he was inspired to write his vampire novel. Another reason to visit the town was the Frank Sutcliffe gallery.

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe was born in Yorkshire on 6th October 1853. He came from a large family, his parents had six children and made the ancient port of Whitby their home. At 17 Sutcliffe was a photographer and assistant to his father Thomas, an Artist and lecturer.

By the time he was 35 he was married to Eliza, the couple had four girls, one son and were living at 9 Burrowfield Terrace. By 1901 the family had moved to Sleights Cottage in the town where his oldest daughter Kathleen was his photography assistant.

Sutcliffe paid the rent by taking studio portraits, but the main subject of his work was everyday working life, with the fishing community a main focus.

Capturing Victorian life brought him international recognition and an award from the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society in 1935.

Included are some of his photographs taken from a 1988 calendar I have called, ‘A Photographic Heritage’. One of the pictures features two of his children, Horace and Irene fishing for newts.

The naff quality copies here aren’t a patch on the images in the calendar, if you search out his pictures, they are worth spending time with.

On the Second World War register he is an 86-year-old widow, employed as Curator at Whitby Museum. His daughter Irene lived with him until he died on the 31st May 1941.


Alikivi   March 2020.

One thought on “A LIFE IN PICTURES – Snapshot of Victorian Photographer, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (1853-1941)

  1. I have been to Whitby only once and the reason was visiting the gallery. I wrote a story about Sutcliffe for a photo magazine. I have books that I bought during the gallery visit and later I have found framed pictures in charity shops. One shop in London was closing down and on the pavement outside the shop they had framed pictures to take away for free and I spotted Sutcliffe pictures there. So now I have some pictures on my wall from him, too. I just love them. It was nice that you wrote about him.

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