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Ellen, Frank Stratton, 1850–1907

University of Cambridge photograph album.

Great Britain, ca. 1878-1879.
Physical Description:
1 album (72 pages, some blank) : 41 photographs, drawings ; 28 x 23 cm
Rare Books and Manuscripts
LF120 .E45 1878+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
The artist has initialled many of the drawings "F.S.E." (or a monogram of the same), with dates from 1878 and 1879. The initials "F.S.E." are also stamped in gold on the front cover. The artist/compiler may be Frank Stratton Ellen (1850-1907), who graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1873 (M.A. and LL.M. 1876). Photographs depict several Cambridge colleges, including Trinity and King's, but St. John's College is most prominently represented, including a view of its chapel on the first leaf. Ellen was later a solicitor at Andover. He died aged 56, at Oulton Broad, Lowestoft.
Bound in contemporary black leather. Stamped in gold on front cover: "F.S.E." Gilt edges.
The album includes albumen photographs, mounted to the page, and drawings (in pen and black ink). In many instances, the photographs and drawings are combined on a page in a form of photocollage. The University of Cambridge features in many of the photographs and drawings, especially in the front half of the album, with a particular focus on St. John's College. Included are images of the chapel, library, and main gate of St. John's College; numerous views of the River Cam, with bridges; the chapel, King's College; various views of Trinity College; and the "Freshman's River."
The drawings and manuscript text that surround many of the photographs may include a mixture of autobiographical material, original fictional content, and content copied from other sources. Of most interest from the last category are a series of images copied from Florence Claxton's The adventures of a woman in search of her rights (London: Graphotyping Co., Ltd., [1872]), a satirical story of a young woman who, after being left by a suitor, becomes "emancipated" and studies at Oxford. She fails at careers as a lawyer, politician, artist, and doctor, then moves to America to marry Brigham Young. Copies of Claxton's illustrations are integrated with the compositions on pages [19] ("A difficulty where to begin"), and [26]-[28].
Verse on pages 20-23 is copied from the poem "Hic Vir, Hic Est," by Charles Stewart Calverly. It describes the non-academic activities of a student at Cambridge. The artist contributes original (?) drawings to complement the verse.
Other drawings may also be fanciful. Page [11] includes a triptych captioned "Matriculation," "Undergraduates A.D. 1900," and "Fresh-men;" the first and third images in the series depict a Black student and a Chinese (?) student, both drawn in elaborate costume and with racially stereotyped features.
The remaining photographs may shed light on the artist's activities beyond Cambridge. The photograph on page [17] depicts two men in a horse-drawn cart; one may be the artist. Other photographs may track the artist's travels, with depictions of Giessbach Falls, Vinchelez (Jersey), the Ouse, Betws-y-coed, Tintern Abbey (the photograph combined with a comic image of figures in a hot-air balloon), and Llandudno. Many of the photographs at the back of the album are loosely inserted, with depictions of Montreux, the Dart, and unidentified alpine scenery.
Subject Terms:
Cambridge (England)
Ellen, Frank Stratton, 1850-1907.
St. John's College (University of Cambridge)
Trinity College (University of Cambridge)
University of Cambridge -- Students.
University of Cambridge.
Women's rights.
Photograph albums.
Albumen prints.
Travel photography.
Ink drawings.
Photocollages (photographic compositions)
Collages (visual works)
Ethnic stereotypes.
Humorous pictures.
Ellen, Frank Stratton, 1850-1907.
Claxton, Florence. Adventures of a woman in search of her rights.
Calverley, Charles Stuart, 1831-1884. Hic Vir, Hic Est.

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