Useful Frames and Dead Pasteboard

Sarah Hook looks at Victorian photographic card portraits, and charts their appearances in novels and poems from the period. She tells the story of loving and burning card portraits, which were widely circulated in nineteenth-century society and became objects of intense feeling in Thomas Hardy’s writing.

All images of Thomas Hardy used in this presentation are from the National Portrait Gallery, London:

Thomas Hardy, by (Mary) Olive Edis (Mrs Galsworthy). Bromide print, 1923. NPG x17356.

Thomas Hardy, by Francis Henry Hart, for Elliott & Fry, published by Ogden's. Cigarette card, 1894, published c. 1895-1907. NPG x136531.

Thomas Hardy, by Henry Walter ('H. Walter') Barnett. Whole-plate glass negative, 1909. NPG x81696.

Thomas Hardy, by (Mary) Olive Edis (Mrs Galsworthy). Bromide print, 1914. NPG x17363.


Sarah Hook is a DPhil candidate at Wolfson College, Oxford, researching the links between Victorian writers and the language and spaces of portraiture in the mid- to late nineteenth century.


Public Engagement with Research