Starting her career at age 40, Christina Broom is proof that’s never too late to try something new. Considered to be the UK’s first female press photographer, Broom was forced to take over her husband’s trade in 1903 after he was injured in an accident, becoming breadwinner for the family. Her career spanned a further 36 years, with Broom regularly venturing onto the streets of London to capture newsworthy events and people. At the Museum of London Docklands, Soldiers and Suffragettes is a celebration of Broom’s extraordinary career.
Over 40,000 photographs stand testament to Christina Broom’s work as a snapper, chronicling everything from glorious royal events and the notorious activities of the suffragettes to images of everyday life on London’s streets and the wounded soldiers of the First World War. Broom was entirely self-taught, printing and then selling her photographs as postcards from a stall next to the Royal Mews. A fearless pioneer and truly inspiring woman, it’s incredible that Broom’s story has largely remained unknown until now – we’re delighted to share a small selection of her amazing photographs…
Life Guards S. Raper, Sidney Crockett and William H. Beckham, 13 September 1915.
Dispensary at Knightsbridge Barracks, during the First World War.
King George V, Queen Mary and Princess Mary, at a thanksgiving service at Guards Chapel, Armistice Day, 1918.
The Oxford rowing team at the University boat race, with photographer Alexander Korda at the water’s edge, Putney, 1911.
The Prisoners’ Pageant, including key members of the WSPU Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Sylvia Pankhurst and Emily Wilding Davison, themselves former prisoners, 23 July 1910.
Young Suffragettes advertising the Women’s exhibition, 8 May 1909.
Suffragette procession promoting the Women’s Exhibition held at the Prince’s Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, May 1909.
Suffragettes in Hyde Park on Women’s Sunday, 21 June 1908.
The Putney and Fulham WSPU branch shop and office, 905 Fulham Road 1910.
Last photograph of Christina Broom, fishing in Margate, just before she died, 1939.
Soldiers and Suffragettes: the Photography of Christina Broom is showing at the Museum of London Docklands until 1 November 2015. Entrance is free. For more information, see the museum’s website. A program of special events including talks and workshops runs alongside the exhibition, while the first book of Christina Broom’s works – published to coincide with the show – is available to buy online here.
All images © Christina Broom/Museum of London.