Born in 1865 at Great Horton, England, Henry Snowden Ward showed little interest in following the career path of his manufacturer father. Instead, he pursued his literary aspirations, and by age 18 was publishing and editing The Practical Naturalist magazine. By 1884, he was working for Percy Lund & Company (later known as Percy Lund, Humphries & Company) and editor of The Practical Photographer. His association with the publication ignited his passion for photography and allowed him to exchange ideas with amateurs and professionals. He married fledgling American photographer Catharine Weed Barnes in 1893, and together with his wife founded The Photogram, a monthly publication. This journal quickly established a reputation as a 'must read' within the photographic community, although its overall commercial sales were far less impressive. Undaunted, the Wards expanded their publishing empire to include The Process Photogram (later known as The Photo-Engraver's Monthly) and the annual pictorial compilation, Photograms of the Year.
By now deeply immersed in the study of technical processes, Mr. Ward was anxious to share the latest improvements with his readers. He was an active member of the Royal Photographic Society, an active Council member and one-time President of The Photographic Convention, and served as a judge at many photographic society exhibitions. Mr. Ward became an enthusiastic student of X-ray photography and wrote what is believed to be its first handbook. He was also one of the founding members of the Roentgen Society, the premier radiological organization. Mr. Ward's lectures on the latest X-ray technologies were eagerly antcipated by photographers, nurses, and students.
A man of many interests, Mr. Ward and his wife began applying photography to literary landscapes. They collaborated on a text on William Shakespeare's home Stratford-on-Avon that featured Mrs. Ward's photographs. They also provided the photographic illustrations for R. D. Blackmore's classic romance, Lorna Doone. Next, the Wards embarked upon the gargantuan task of illustrating the life and works of Charles Dickens. The Canterbury Pilgrimages met with great critical and popular acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. By 1899, the couple was touring the United States with their lantern slideshow, "The Real Dickens-Land," which also featured original photographs of Mr. Dickens' Gads Hill home. Their second American tour, which also included a “Shakespeare at Home” series of slides, was a huge financial success, with audiences willing to pay top dollar for Mr. Ward's insightful commentary and humorous anecdotes. In 1911, while on a grueling lecture/slide tour to celebrate the upcoming centenary of Mr. Dickens' birth, Mr. Ward collapsed in New York and died shortly thereafter. The news of Henry Snowden Ward's sudden death at the age of 46 stunned and saddened his many friends, colleagues, and admirers. Mr. Ward's close friend George E. Brown summed up the collective sense of loss in this eloquent remembrance:
"His memory will long survive among those who knew him as a man of truly great qualities, without a shade of bitterness in his nature, and the firmest and most loyal of friends."
1899 Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. XXX (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 97.
1993 A Century of X-Rays and Radioactivity in Medicine (London: Institute of Physics Publishing), p. 85.
1909 Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. XLVI (New York: Edward L. Wilson), p. 416.
1912 Wilson's Photographic Magazine, Vol. XLIX (New York: Edward L. Wilson), pp. 42-44.
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera