Friday, 9 May 2014

Sir Benjamin Stone 1838-1914

Sir Benjamin Stone 1838-1914: Photographer, Traveller and Politician, 107pp., 20 photographs, ISBN 13: 978-1499265521, ISBN 10: 149926552, £7.99, paperback. Published by the Author under his imprint Birmingham Biographies, this volume is available from Amazon and from other booksellers.

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Includes twenty rarely-seen or previously unpublished photographs by Sir Benjamin Stone.

Sir Benjamin Stone lived a full life, and was certainly a more contented man than his restless Birmingham contemporary Joseph Chamberlain. Elected to Parliament in 1895, Stone would have been an undistinguished backbencher had it not been for his camera. On the terrace of the House of Commons he lined up his fellow-MPs and various interesting visitors to have their pictures taken. Dubbed ‘Sir Snapshot’ by the press, he became in these years the most well-known amateur photographer in the country. Stone was an intrepid traveller too, embarking – equipped, of course, with his camera – on a voyage around the world in 1891 and a journey of almost one thousand miles up the Amazon in 1893. He was also an insatiable collector, particularly of botanical and geological specimens and a shrewd businessman, with investments in glass and paper manufacture and house-building and quarrying. Stone was also a Tory politician. He doggedly promoted the Tory cause in Liberal-dominated Birmingham in the 1870s and early 1880s, and, after the Liberal rupture over Irish Home Rule in 1886, became an equally-determined supporter of the new Unionist alliance.

Drawing on newspapers and his own extensive personal papers, this is the first biography of Sir Benjamin Stone to be written. It is published to mark the centenary of his death.

Stephen Roberts is Visiting Research Fellow in Victorian History at Newman University, Birmingham.  His published work focuses on Chartism and the political history of Victorian Birmingham.

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