Photography by John Worley Debenham

John Worley Debenham was born on 1st September 1876 at Ryde, Isle of Wight, the son of Arthur Debenham and Alice Jane (née Worley). He was the second of five brothers, three of whom followed their father into the photography business. He is recorded living at Fulham in London in the 1901 census, and at Surbiton in Surrey in 1911, in both cases working as a photographer. In 1925 he married Mignon Martina O'Donovan and established his business in Willesden, where he remained until his death on 7th April 1958 at the age of 81.

He had a great interest in the theatre and took up theatrical photography, in which he gained a high reputation, and was one of the most outstanding photographers of his generation in this field. One of his favourite places was the Regents Park Open Air Theatre in London, where many of his photographs were taken; these include a set taken of a production of John Milton's masque 'Comus' in 1952, which is included in the collection of his work featured on this website. These are shown here in five categories, which also include a page of family-related photographs:


Every effort has been made to identify the relevant copyright holders and seek their permission. We have acted in good faith and on the best information available to us, and apologise for any inadvertent omissions.

In some cases we have not yet been able to identify the participants or productions. All assistance with this will be gratefully received. If you have any information to add, please send me an email.

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