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(Henry Donald) Halksworth Wheeler

(1878-1937), Photographer and dealer

Artist of 2 portraits

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Charles Doran as Hamlet in 'Hamlet', by (Henry Donald) Halksworth Wheeler - NPG x22283

Charles Doran as Hamlet in 'Hamlet'

by (Henry Donald) Halksworth Wheeler
bromide postcard print, circa 1910s
NPG x22283

Charles Doran as Brutus in 'Julius Caesar', by (Henry Donald) Halksworth Wheeler - NPG x22284

Charles Doran as Brutus in 'Julius Caesar'

by (Henry Donald) Halksworth Wheeler
bromide postcard print, circa 1910s
NPG x22284

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Stephen Nutley

24 February 2017, 21:54

Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler was born in Brockley, Kent (now part of the London Borough of Lewisham) in 1878. [The birth of Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler was registered in the District of Greenwich during the 3rd Quarter of 1878]. Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler was the fifth child of Anne Halksworth (born c1844, London) and Thomas Francis Wheeler (born 1842, St Pancras, London), an "Appraiser" from London. Thomas Francis Wheeler had married Anne Halksworth in London in 1868. The couple's first child, Ann Isabel Wheeler was born in Deptford, Kent, in 1870. A second child, a son named Frederick William Wheeler, was born in Lewisham, Kent during the 3rd Quarter of 1871. Another daughter, Ada Jane Wheeler, was born in Lewisham the following year. [The birth of Ada Jane Wheeler was registered in the District of Lewisham during the 4th Quarter of 1872]. Three more children arrived over a four-year period, when the Wheeler family were living in Brockley, Kent, - Kate Rebecca Wheeler (born 1875), Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler (born 1878), and Mary Emily Wheeler (born 1879).
When the 1881 census was taken, Henry Wheeler, then only two years of age, was living with his aunt, Mrs Jane Donald Williams at her home in Worthing, West Sussex. Henry, together with his two sisters, Mary and Kate, plus his older brother Frederick, were staying at 49 Chapel Road, Worthing with Mrs Jane Donald Williams and her two children. ( Henry's aunt, Jane Donald Halksworth (born c1842, London) had married Lancelot Hugh Williams in 1868 ). Also residing at Mrs Williams' home in Worthing was Ellen Halksworth (born c1839, London), his mother's unmarried sister. Annie Halksworth, Henry's mother, and his two aunts (Jane Donald Halksworth and Ellen Halksworth) were the three daughters of Anne and William Halksworth (1811-1872), a jeweller and engraver of Fleet Street, London. Interestingly, Mrs Jane R. Halksworth (1808-1866), Henry's maternal grandmother, was an early photographer and between 1856 and 1859 she took photographic portraits at her husband's business premises at 58 Fleet Street, London, and, on alternate days, at 5 Lawn Place, Hammersmith.
Henry' Wheeler's mother and father had their home in Deptford, Kent, on the south bank of London's River Thames. It appears that Henry and Mary, Mr & Mrs Wheeler's two youngest children, spent a great deal of their time with their aunt, Mrs Jane Williams, at her home in Worthing. Henry Wheeler's father, Thomas Francis Wheeler, died in the London Borough of Lewisham in 1886, at the age of 48. Henry's mother also ended her life in in Kent and she was buried alongside her husband in the Lady & Brockley Cemetery. Even when their mother was alive, Henry Wheeler and his younger sister Mary continued to live at their Aunt Jane's home in Worthing - both are recorded at 49 Chapel Road, Worthing in 1891. By 1899, Mrs Jane Williams had moved to a house called "Rosemont" in Christ Church Road, Worthing. The 1901 census return records Henry D. H. Wheeler and his sister Mary Emily Wheeler residing at "Rosemont", Christ Church Road, Worthing. On the census return, Henry D. H. Wheeler, then aged 22, gives his profession as "Photographer (own account)". Henry's twenty-one year old sister, Mary Emily Wheeler, is described on the 1901 census return as a "Photographic Artist".
Henry D. H. Wheeler's photographic career in Worthing was brief. Early in 1902, Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler married Grace Harriett Wainwright (born 1878, Bloomsbury, London), a daughter of Alice and Thomas Wainwright, a photographic chemist from Deptford. After their marriage, Henry and Grace Wheeler settled in Folkestone, Kent, where their daughter, Kathleen Grace Wheeler, was born during the First Quarter of 1903.
In 1902, Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler joined forces with fellow Worthing photographer Benjamin Haddock to form the firm of Wheeler & Haddock. In 1901, Benjamin Field Haddock (born 1871, Kidderminster, Worcs.) had been working as a photographer in Worthing. In the 1901 census, Haddock was recorded as a thirty year old photographer living at 16 Stanley Road, Worthing. Kelly's 1903 Directory of Kent lists the photographic studio of Wheeler & Haddock at 9 Church Street, Folkestone. Benjamin Haddock had left the business by the beginning of 1903 and from this date the studio at 9 Church Street, Folkestone was owned solely by Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler. In 1906, Wheeler's photographs were still being registered for copyright under his full name of Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler, but by 1912 his work was usually signed in the truncated form of "Halksworth Wheeler". By 1913, Halksworth Wheeler was operating a photographic portrait studio at No. 9 Church Street, Folkestone, and running a store next door at No. 7 which sold photographic materials.
Around 1913, Halksworth Wheeler became a member of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS). In consecutive years, Halksworth Wheeler exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society. In 1913, Halksworth Wheeler showed a photograph entitled "A Kentish Landscape" at the 58th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Photographic Sociey. The following year, Henry Donald Halksworth Wheeler became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and at the 59th Annual Exhibition, Halksworth Wheeler showed a portrait of Society Fellow and Essex-based photographer William Louis Francis Wastell, FRPS (1863-1941) and an interior view of the Parish Church of Folkestone. At the 60th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society, H. D. Halksworth Wheeler, FRPS, showed a selection of his portrait work under the title "Some Specimens of Artistic Portraiture". Although Halksworth Wheeler earned his living as a commercial photographer, he continued to pursue his interest in "artistic photography". One of Wheeler's photographs was included in the 1914 issue of Photograms of the Year - The Annual Review of the World's Photographic Work, which featured pictures by internationally famous photographers such as James Craig Annan, Edward Weston and Clarence H. White  Wheeler's photograph of "An Old Sussex Mill" was favourably received, the reviewer noting that "the pictorial matter is quite unimpeachable and the tone values are excellent".
By 1915, Halksworth Wheeler had opened an additional studio in Folkestone at 109a Sandgate Road to supplement his dual business premises at No 7 & 9 Church Street, Folkestone. From his Folkestone studios, Halksworth Wheeler built up a successful photography business, which carries his name to this day. In addition to his studio portrait work, Halksworth Wheeler produced outdoor group portraits of sports teams, various "event photographs", such as the arrival of Belgian refugees in Folkestone in August 1914 and many views of Folkestone and a series of photographs of local churches (e.g.St Paulinus Church, Crayford ; St Mary's Church, Elham) which were issued in picture postcard format. The firm of Halksworth Wheeler continued to publish picture postcards right up until the 1960s.
By 1927, H. D. Halksworth Wheeler, FRPS, had become the President of the Professional Photographers Association. After Henry Halksworth Wheeler retired from the firm, the business continued under the name of Halksworth Wheeler of Folkestone. In modern times, the company of Halksworth Wheeler Ltd has concerned itself with the supply of audio-visual products such as camcorders and digital cameras.
Henry died on 9 Jan 1937 at his Studios in Sandgate Road Folkestone. He was found with a coat over his head and gas escaping into the room as reported by the Dover Express Newspaper on 26 Jan 1937. He is buried in Plot T Section C Grave number 377 at Hawkinge Cemetery in Kent along with his wife Grace Harriett Wheeler who died in 1954.

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