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Nancy Spain

16 of 28 portraits matching these criteria:

- set matching 'Vintage photographs by Angus McBean'

Angus McBean Photograph. © Harvard Theatre Collection, Harvard University.

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Nancy Spain

by Angus McBean
bromide print, 1951
11 1/2 in. x 8 7/8 in. (292 mm x 225 mm)
Purchased, 2001
Primary Collection
NPG P909

Sitterback to top

  • Nancy Spain (1917-1964), Journalist and broadcaster. Sitter in 35 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Angus McBean (1904-1990), Photographer. Artist associated with 276 portraits, Sitter in 79 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Pepper, Terence, Angus McBean Portraits, 2006 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 July to 22 October 2006), p. 92 Read entry

    The journalist and broadcaster Nancy Spain was best known in the 1950s and 1960s for her appearances on radio and television programmes such as My Word, What's My Line and Juke Box Jury. She was also celebrated for her cropped hair and unconventional dress style, including monogrammed men's shirts, baggy jumpers and trousers. In 1952 she joined the Daily Express and became one of its star writers. McBean photographed her in the guise of the author of a series of camp detective novels (including Poison for Teacher, 1949) that had been inspired by her time at Roedean and which she set in the all-girls school Radcliff Hall (as a tribute to the writer Radclyffe Hall, whose lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, 1928, was the subject of a famous obscenity trial). Spain, who was teasingly romantically linked with the broadcaster Gilbert Harding, actually lived in a triangular relationship with her life partner, the editor Joan Laurie, and Sheila Van Damm, the racing driver. Spain and Laurie were tragically killed in an air accident on their way to cover the Grand National at Aintree.

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1951back to top

Current affairs

The Conservative Party wins the general election and Winston Churchill returns for a second term as prime minister.

Art and science

On the centenary of the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Festival of Britain is held as a nationwide celebration of British culture, and as an impetus for post-war regeneration. As well as various art, science and industrial exhibitions and events, a major regeneration project was initiated for the South Bank area of London under the directorship of the architect, Hugh Casson.


Libya declares its sovereignty from Italian rule, becoming the first independent state to be created by the UN.
At the Treaty of San Francisco, 48 nations sign a peace treaty with Japan, officially ending the Pacific War - the last battleground of the Second World War.

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