My assessment is that Baker made a very shrewd choice, given the colourful reputation of the Countess as a socialite. It seems that then as now, a mixture of celebrity and notoriety can be a successful marketing device. Frances Evelyn Greville, Countess of Warwick was popularly known as ‘Daisy’ and her personal life did not command privacy. She was associated through high profile affairs with amongst others, the Prince of Wales. ‘Daisy’ also had a reputation as ‘the Socialist Countess’, being a supporter of the Pen Workers’ Union, formed in Birmingham in 1897 and concerned with protecting a largely female workforce. In 1904 she joined the Social Democratic Federation, at about the time that this brochure was published.
Harold Baker appears to be very comfortable in linking his business with such a well known and (perhaps for some) notorious person. Alongside her image, he highlights the advantages of his new studio at the corner of Cherry Street and Cannon Street, Birmingham. These include a lift to carry clients to the studio and dressing rooms, strategically placed on the fourth floor to catch the most natural light for effective photography. A powerful electric lamp permits night photography.
In the manner of the time, Baker promotes his new studio as:‘one of the largest and certainly the best lighted in the district, so that it is peculiarly adapted for photographing children in dull weather’.
Harold Baker was a well established photographer, having practised in Birmingham from about 1885 and continuing until the 1930s. He had a national reputation, both as a professional photographer and a creative photographer. This brochure forms part of the ‘Harold Baker Collection’ held by Birmingham Archives & Heritage (MS 2938) which will be available for consultation from September 2013 in the new Library of Birmingham.
- For background information on Harold Baker, see ‘Coming to Light: Birmingham’s Photographic Collections’ by Peter James (1998)
- For information on ‘Daisy’ Greville, see ‘Daisy: The Life and Loves of the Countess of Warwick’ by Sushila Anand (2008)