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Howard Coster: Camera Portraits of the Twenties and Thirties

Press Notice
This exhibition will mark the centenary of the birth of Howard Coster, self-styled ‘Photographer of Men.’ Over 130 photographs will present an array of personalities from the twenties and thirties in the worlds of art, letters, music, theatre and film.

Following a childhood in the Isle of Wight and early work as a photographer in South Africa, Coster came to London with his wife in 1926 and opened a studio close to Fleet Street. He quickly established a reputation with his portraits of leading literary figures such as G.K. Chesterton, Arnold Bennett, A.A. Milne and John Galsworthy. Initially advertising himself as a ‘Photographer of Men’ to distance himself from the Society portraiture of Bond Street, he was later also to take many memorable portraits of the famous women of the time: Vera Brittain, Rebecca West, Radclyffe Hall and Edith Sitwell.

By the mid-1930s Coster was adding to his other literary portraits (such as the only studio studies of Isherwood, Auden and Spender together) numerous figures from the worlds of theatre, film and music: John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft; Alexander Korda; Charles Laughton, and Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh; Myra Hess, and Benjamin Britten with Lennox Berkeley. Allen Lane’s newly launched Penguin books frequently bore Coster’s portraits of their authors.

Coster is perhaps noted for his innovative and dramatic use of lighting. Carefully judged, low-key effects illuminate character and suggest atmosphere in studies such as those of the crime writer Edgar Wallace or the oboist Leon Goossens. The quality and range of his work in this exhibition confirm Coster as one of the major photographic portraitists of his time.

The accompanying book, Howard Coster’s Celebrity Portraits by Terence Pepper, the exhibition organiser, is published by Dover/Constable & Co Ltd.

Handlist

**Denotes that the photograph is not reproduced in Terence Pepper, Howard Coster’s Celebrity Portraits(Dover, 1985)

1. James Evershed Agate 1877-1947
1930s
Drama critic, diarist and autobiographer

2. Richard Aldington 1892-1962
1931
Poet and novelist
x2427

3. Margery Louise Allingham 1904-66
1936
Writer of detective stories
x2440

4. Dame Edith Margaret Emily (‘Peggy’) Ashcroft 1907-91
1936
Actress
x2471

5. Anthony Asquith 1902-68
1935
Film Director
x2477

6. W.H. Auden 1907-73, poet, Christopher Isherwood 1904-86, novelist, and Stephen Spender 1909-95, poet and critic
1938
x2948

7. Sir Michael Balcon 1896-1977
1936
Film director and producer
x2196

8. Ethel Bartlett 1900-78 and Rae Robertson 1893-1956
1934
Pianists

9. **Henry Mayo (H.M.) Bateman 1887-1970
1933
Cartoonist

10. (Enoch) Arnold Bennett 1867-1931
1929
Novelist, playwright and man of letters
x2850

11. Edward Frederic (E.F.) Benson 1867-1940
1934
Novelist, essayist and biographer
x2851

12. ** Sir John Betjeman 1906-84
1953
Poet Laureate

13.** Marjorie Bowen 1886-1956
1936
Novelist
x3058

14.** Vera Mary Brittain 1893-1970
1936
Writer, pacifist and feminist

15.(Edward) Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten of Aldeburgh 1913-76 with Sir Lennox Randall
Francis Berkeley
1903-89
1938
Composers
Published in The Bystander, 24 August 1938
x1634

16.Douglas Byng 1893-1987
1930
Revue, cabaret, variety and pantomime artist

17.Gladys E. Calthrop 1894-1980
1931
Artist and stage designer
Published in The Bystander, 26 February 1936

18.(Ignatius) Royston Dunnachie (‘Roy’) Campbell 1901-57
1936
South African-born poet and translator
x10252

19.Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton 1874-1936
1934
Essayist, novelist and poet
Published in The Bookman
x10512

20.**Peter Cheyney 1896-1951
1938
Crime novelist

21.Kenneth Mackenzie Clark, Baron Clark of Saltwood 1903-83
1937
Art historian, writer and collector
Published in The Bystander, 23 June 1937
x01519

22.**Rev Philip Thomas Byard (‘Tubby’) Clayton 1885-1972
1937
Founder of Toc H.
Published in The Bystander in the ‘Powers of the Pulpit’ series, 1937

23.Wells Wintemute Coates 1895-1958
1937
Architect
A variant poster was published in The Bystander, 3 November 1937
x3546

24.George Douglas Howard (G.H.D.) Cole 1889-1959, university teacher, writer and socialist and Margaret Isabel Postgate 1893-1980, writer and lecturer
1938
Published in The Bystander, 20 April 1938
x10859

25.Cyril Vernon Connolly 1903-1974
1942
Writer, Journalist and critic
x15334

26.Alfred Edgar (A.E.) Coppard 1878-1957
1931
Poet and short story writer
Ax3430

27.** Joan Coster 1900-1974
The Photographer’s assistant and wife
x47158

28.Sir Noel Pierce Coward 1899-1973
1939
Actor, director, composer and playwright
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 12 July 1939
x1800

29.Ely Culbertson 1891-1955
1937
Bridge player and pacifist
Published in The Bystander, 5 January 1938
x10549

30.Cecil Day-Lewis 1904-1972
1937
Poet Laureate from 1968
x10287

31. E.M. Delafield 1890-1943
1930s
Novelist, journalist, playwright and magistrate
x10440

32. Walter John De La Mare 1873-1956
1934
Poet, novelist and anthropologist
x11305

33. Sir William Reid Dick 1878-1961
1937
Sculptor and Royal Academician
Published in The Bystander 29 September 1937
x23994

34. Frank Owen Dobson 1888-1963
1929
Sculptor
x11036

35. **Edward Arthur Donald St George Hamilton Chichester, 6th Marquess of Donegall 1903-75
1934
Journalist

36. Sir Gerald Hubert Edward Busson Du Maurier 1873-1934
1930s
Actor-Manager

37. **Malcom Elwin 1903-73
1932
Biographer and critic

38. Dame Edith Mary Evans 1888-1976
1936
Actress; photographed here as the nurse in Romeo and Juliet (1935)
Published in Theatre World, December 1935
x11779

39. Robert Joseph Flaherty 1884-1951
1937
American documentary filmmaker
Published in The Bystander, 21 April 1937
x12320/1

40. Michel Fokine 1880-1942
1936
Dancer and choreographer
Published in The Bystander, 3 June 1936
x12220

41. Edward Morgan (E.M.) Forster 1879-1970
1938
Novelist

42. Christina Agnes Lilian Foyle (Mrs Roland Batty) 1911-99
1936
Daughter of William Foyle, founder of Foyle’s bookshop
x13556

43. **John Galsworthy 1867-1933
1926
Novelist and playwright
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 22 September 1936

44. Sir (Arthur) John Gielgud 1904-2000, actor, and Dame Peggy Ashcroft 1907-91, actress
1935
Published in Theatre World, December 1935
x14505

45. (Arthur) Eric Rowton Gill 1832-1940
1937
Stone carver, engraver, typographer and writer
x12002

46. ** William Gerald Golding 1911-93
1953
Novelist

47. Leon Jean Goossens 1897-1988
1935
Oboist
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 1 April 1936

48. Graham Greene 1904-91
1930s
Novelist and critic
Ax136135

49. Philip Guedalla 1889-1944
1930
Historian, biographer and essayist
x20829

50. John Gunther 1901-1970
1936
Journalist
Published in The Bystander, 30 September 1936
x1890

51. Sir (William) Tyrone Guthrie 1900-1971
1936
Theatre director
Published in The Bystander, 11 November 1936
x16708

52. (Marguerite) Radclyffe Hall 1880-1943
1932
Novelist and poet
x10422

53. Tom Harrison 1911-76, anthropologist, and Charles Henry Madge, 1912-96, poet
1939
Co-authors of Britain by Mass Observation (1939)
Commissioned by Penguin Books, 1939

54. Dame Barbara Hedworth 1903-75
1930s
Sculptor
x11081

55. Sir Alan Patrick (A.P.) Herbert 1890-1971
1930
Poet, humorist, barrister and Member of Parliament
x20965

56. Dame (Julia) Myra Hess 1890-1965
1940
Pianist
Commissioned by Christian Science Monitor, 1940

57. Georgette Heyer 1902-74
1936
Writer of detective stories and historical novels

58. Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock 1899-1980, film director, with his wife, Alma Reville 1899-1982
1936
A variant pose of Hitchcock alone was published in The Bystander, 17 June 1936
x3565

59. ** Baron George Hoyningen-Huene 1900-68
1930
Photographer

60. Alodous Leonard Huxley 1894-1963
1934
Novelist and essayist
A variant full-length pose was published in The Bystander, 15 January 1936
x10664

61. Christopher William Bradshaw Isherwood 1904-86, novelist, and Wystan Hugh (W.H.) Auden, 1907-73, poet
1938
Published in The Bystander, 26 January 1938

62. William Wymark (W.W.)Jacobs 1863-1943
1934
Short story writer
x23042

63. (Margaret) Storm Jameson 1897-1986
1933
Novelist, drama critic and essayist

64. Augustus Edwin John 1878-1961
1937
Painter
Published in The Bystander, 24 November 1937

65. Edward McKnight Kauffer 1890-1954
1927
American-born graphic designer

66. **Valentine Edward Charles Browne, Viscount Castlerosse, 6th Earl of Kenmare 1891-1943
1930
Journalist and director of Express Newspapers
x20987

67. Eric Henri Kenningon 1888-1960
1936
Painter, sculptor and graphic artist
Published in The Bystander, 6 May 1936
x23903

68. Alexander Korda 1893-1956, film director, and Georges Perinal 1897-1965, film cameraman
1936
x 3600

69. **Basil C. Langton 1912-2003
1930s
Actor-manager and producer
Exhibited with the title ‘Arrogance’

70. Charles Laughton 1899-1962
1936
Actor
Published in The Bystander, 15 July 1936
x12265

71. Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence 1888-1935
1931
‘Lawrence of Arabia’
Published in The Illustrated London News, 25 May 1935
x1970/1

72. The Lehmanns:(Rudolph) John Frederick Lehmann 1907-87, poet and publisher, Beatrix Lehmann 1903-79, classical actress, and Rosamond Nina Lehmann 1901-90, novelist
1939
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 11 January 1939
x24888

73. **The Lehmanns (see above)
1938
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 11 January 1939

74. Ethel Levy 1891-1955
1938
Actress and singer
Photographed for Margot Asquith’s book Myself when Young, 1938
x23341

75. **Sir David Low 1891-1963
1930s
Cartoonist

76. Count John Francis McCormack 1884-1945
1940
Irish tenor
x23604

77. **Rev William Patrick Glyn (‘Pat’) McCormick 1877-1940
1937
Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields
Published in The Bystander in the ‘Powers of the Pulpit’ series, 1937

78. (Frederick) Louis MacNeice 1907-63
1942
Poet, lecturer, critic, and radio writer

79. Elizabeth Maconchy 1907-94
1938
Composer
x23837

80. Sir Edward Howard Marsh 1872-1953
1939
Patron of arts, civil servant and scholar
x23651

81. **Norman Marshall 1901-80
1937
Director and theatre manager
Published in The Bystander, 10 February 1937

82. (William) Somerset Maugham 1874-1965
1936
Novelist and playwright
Published in The Bystander, 25 November 1936
x23661

83. Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne 1882-1956, novelist and playwright with his son Christopher Robin Milne 1920-96
1926
Commissioned by Methuen, 1926
x19578

84. **James Alan Mollison 1905-59
1930s
Airman
x10172

85. Motley:Sophia Devine (nee Harris) 1900-66, Elizabeth Montgomery 1902-93 and Margaret (‘Peggy’) Harris 1904-2000
1936
Stage designers
Published in The Bystander, 1 January 1936
x81731

86. **Ralph Hale (R.H.) Mottram 1883-1971
1929
Novelist

87. Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson 1889-1946
1936
Painter, etcher and lithographer
Published in The Bystander, 18 march 1936
x24228

88. (John) Beverley Nichols 1898-1983, writer, composer and journalist, and Charles Blake (C.B.) Cochran 1872-1951, impresario and showman
1929
A variant pose was published in Vogue, 19 February 1930

89. Sir Harold George Nicolson 1886-1968
1936
Diplomat and writer
Published in The Bystander, 5 February 1936
x24457

90. Laurence Olivier, Baron Olivier of Brighton 1907-89 and Vivien Leigh 1913-67
1936
As Michael Ingolby and Cynthia in Fire Over England (1937)
x24290 

91. Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen 1878-1931
1927
Painter
x13647

92. Theodore Francis (T.F.) Powys 1875-1953
1934
Novelist
x10425

93. John Boynton (J.B.) Priestly 1894-1984
1937
Novelist and playwright
Published in The Bystander, 25 August 1937
x13513

94. Roger Cuthbert Quilter 1877-1953
1936
Composer
Published in The Bystander, 25 August 1937
x24205

95. Sir Herbert Edward Reade 1893-1968
1934
Poet and art critic
x19536

96. Dame Flora Robson 1902-84
1936
Actress: as Queen Elizabeth in Fire Over England (1937)

97. Sir William Rothenstein 1872-1945, painter, lithographer and etcher; John Knewstub Maurice Rothenstein 1901-92, Director of the Tate Gallery; and Michael Rothenstein 1908-93, painter and printmaker
1938
Published in The Bystander, 14 December 1938

98. Bertrand Russell, 3rd Earl Russell 1872-1970
1934
Philosopher, mathematician, social reformer and pacifist
Published in The Bystander, 27 January 1937
x14654

99. **Thomas Christmas (‘Peter’) Russell
Active 1930s-1950s
1930s
Fashion Designer

100. Victoria Mary (‘Vita’) Sackville-West 1892-1962
1934
Poet and novelist
x23916

101. Sir Philip Albert Gustave David Sassoon, 3rd Bart 1888-1939
1929
Politician and connoisseur
x15286

102. Siegfried Lorraine Sassoon 1886-1967
1930
Poet and novelist
Published in The Bookman, December 1930
x23912

103. Dorothy Leigh Sayers 1893-1957
1938
Detective story writer
x2324

104. **Charles William Anderson (C.W.A.) Scott 1903-46
1931
Airman
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 8 July 1931
x10396

105. George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950
1931
Playwright
x2887

106. Very Rev Hugh Richard Laurie (‘Dick’) Sheppard 1880-1935
1937
Preacher and writer
Published in The Bystander in the ‘Powers of the Pulpit’ series, 1937

107. Alistair Sim 1900-76
1937
Actor
x25831

108. Dame Edith Louisa Sitwell 1887-1964
1930s
Poet and critic
Published in The Bystander, 6 October 1937
x1639

109. Sir (Francis) Osbert Sacheverell Sitwell, 5th Bart 1892-1969
1927
Poet, playwright and novelist
x24212

110. **Betty Swaebe
Coster’s 16 year-old general assistant

111. **Richard Tauber 1892-1948
1935
Austrian-born tenor

112. Angela Margaret Thirkell 1890-1961
1938
Novelist
Commissioned by Penguin Books, 1938
x24259

113. Dame Irene Vanbrugh 1872-1949
1937
Actress
Photographed for Margot Asquith’s book Myself when Young (1938)
x93885

114. (Richard Horatio) Edgar Wallace 1875-1932
1930
Novelist, playwright and journalist

115. Sir William Turner Walton 1902-83
1935
Composer
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 6 November 1935
x14661

116. Sylvia Townsend Warner 1893-1978
1934
Novelist, poet, short story writer and biographer
x3371

117. Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh 1903-1966
1930s
Novelist
Published in The Bystander, 3 February 1937
X14411

118. **Rev Leslie Dixon Waterhead 1893-1976
1936
Methodist Minister
Published in The Bystander in ‘Powers of the Pulpit’ series, 1937

119. Herbert George (H.G.) Wells 1866-1946
1934
Novelist, sociologist, historian
x24291

120. Dame Rebecca West 1892-1983
1934
Writer, journalist, critic
x23917

121. Reginald John (‘Rex’) Whistler 1905-1944
1936
Painter, muralist, book illustrator and designer
Five studies for The Bystander, 29 April 1936
X12297-30

122. Sir (Bertram) Clough Williams-Ellis 1883-1978
1937
Architect
A variant pose was published in The Bystander, 4 August 1937
x24202

123. Sir Henry Joseph Wood 1869-1944
1944
Conductor
Published in The Tatler and Bystander, 1 March 1944
x23984

124. William Butler (W.B.) Yeats 1865-1939
1935
Irish poet and dramatist
X15303

125. **The Lost Pleiade
1930
Published in The Bystander, 16 July 1930
Loaned by the Royal Photographic Society

A Documentary Film Conference
1937

126. Edward Salisbury 1886-1978, Mary Field 1896-1968 and Professor Winifred Cullis 1875-1956
Published in The Bystander, 24 March 1937
x23986

127. **A Literary Levee
1934
Published in the London Mercury, Christmas 1934

128. **Studies for Photomontages
1935

129. ** Album of Photographs of Coster’s War-Time Service in the Royal Flying Corps (later RAF) 

Documentary Material

1.  Howard Coster’s autographed sitter’s book

2.  Howard Coster’s 1930s Studio

3.  Copy print from an unidentified periodical

4.  Howard Coster photographing H.M. Bateman, 1933

5.  Howard Coster being interviewed by Sir (Henry) Thomas (‘Tom’) Hopkinson
1953
Photograph by Godfrey Cake
Published with an interview in Photography, November 1953

6.  Studio Label, 1931
Copy photograph lent by the Royal Photographic Society

7.  Howard Coster 1885-1959
1931
Pencil drawing by Eric Gill
x5196

8.  Howard Coster at work
1939
Photograph by Tunbridge
Published in The Bystander, 20 December 1939

9.  Joe
1934
An ex-boxer and Coster’s general factotum shown holding a reflector whole Coster photographs Sir Arthur Bryant

10.  Copies of The Bookman with covers by Howard Coster

11.  Penguin books with portraits by Coster on the covers

12.  Copy photographs of two pages from The Bystander, 7 October 1931 and 12 August 1936