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Irish faces feature in new National Portrait Gallery display


A new display of photographs by legendary Soho figure Daniel Farson has opened at the National Portrait Gallery on 19 March.


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Famous in the Fifties: Photographs by Daniel Farson will celebrate the multi-faceted career of Farson who worked as a Picture Post photographer, television presenter, and writer.


The 16 portraits on display include a number of Irish personalities including writer Brendan Behan in Dublin.


Also featured in the collection are Cyril Connolly and Lady Caroline Blackwood on Old Compton Street in Soho, artist and illustrator Nina Hamnett, actress Barbara Windsor, Lucian Freud and actor Richard Burton.


This is the first solo display of photographs by Farson at the National Portrait Gallery.


Born in Kensington in 1927, Farson was the only child of American-born journalist and adventurer, Negley Farson, and his wife, Enid Eveleen a niece of the author Bram Stoker.


He became a political correspondent for the Central Press Agency in Fleet Street at the age of just 17 and in 1947 he enlisted in the American Army Air Corps gaining experience on the army’s Stars and Stripes magazine supplement.


Whilst attending Cambridge University in 1949, he established the magazine Panorama which in turn helped him secure a job as a staff photographer for Picture Post in 1951.


In the early 1950s he began his affiliation with Soho, where he found acceptance of his homosexuality and later struggled with alcoholism.


In 1956 Farson joined commercial television in its infancy, presented his own series and became a television personality.


In 1962 the photographer bought a pub, the Waterman’s Arms, on the Isle of Dogs where he successfully revived music hall acts.


However, this did not prevent bankruptcy and in 1964 Farson moved to his parents’ former home in north Devon.


It was here and later in Appledore, Devon, that Farson wrote 27 books, including biographies of his great uncle, Bram Stoker, and his autobiography Never a Normal Man (1997), published in the year in which he died.




Exhibition details:

Famous in the fifties: Photographs by Daniel Farson

National Portrait Gallery, London

Runs until September 16

Admission free









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