The Great Exhibitor: The Life and Work of Henry Cole by Elizabeth Bonython, Anthony Burton - review by Patrick Taylor-Martin

Patrick Taylor-Martin

Carry On Improving

The Great Exhibitor: The Life and Work of Henry Cole


V & A Publications 328pp £35 order from our bookshop

HENRY COLE - ADMINISTRATOR, educational reformer, entrepreneur, driving force behind the 1851 Great Exhibition - rejoiced in the name 'Old King Cole'. In fact, he was, in appearance at least, more like a cross between King Lear and Falstaff. Tissot, Doyle and Whistler all painted or drew him. But the best image of the man is Julia Margaret Cameron's superb photographic portrait, which forms the frontispiece to this detailed and painstaking biography.

Cole - as Dickens said of one of his pedagogic followers in Hard Times - was 'a mighty man for cutting and drying ... a professed pugilist; always in training, always with a system to force down the general throat like a bolus'. The • Cameron portrait captures both Cole's

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