Jessie Mann: The first ever female photographer?

Jessie Mann: The first ever female photographer?

Jessie Mann: The first ever female photographer?

IT is strongly believed that Jessie Mann from Perth is the first woman photographer.


Jessie is understood to have been the first to capture images of people and places while working for photographic pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson.
It is believed that a print in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery of the King of Saxony in 1844, taken at the studio when Hill and Adamson were unavailable, was photographed by Mann.
She was born on 20 January, 1805, in Perth, the daughter of a house painter. She grew up there with her four sisters and one brother.
According to the Encylopedia of 19th Century Photography, they state: “When Jessie’s father died in 1839 she moved wither her two unmarried sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret, to live with their brother Alexander, a solicitor in Edinburgh.
“When Alexander married in 1842 the three sisters moved to a flat in Leopold Place, close to Rock Housem where Hill and Adamson set up their photographic studio.
“In a letter written by Naysmith, he describes her as the “thrice worth Miss Mann that most skilful and zealous of assistants”.
“When photographic activities ceased at Rock Hoouse following the death of Adamson, Jessie became housekeeper of Andrew Balfour, who ran a private grammar school in Musseulburgh.”
They add: “There is a personal letter to Hill from Jessie in the archives of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1856 in which she refers to photography.
“She moved back to Edinburgh to live with her surviving sister, but died on 12 April 1867 after a stroke.
“She was buried in the family plot at Rosebank Cemetery in Edinburgh.”

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