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Cecil Beaton
(1904 — 1980)

Cecil Beaton was born in Hampstead. His father was a prosperous timber merchant however Beaton never wanted to join the family business. He was educated at Heath Mount School, where he was allegedly bullied by Evelyn Waugh, and then went on to the Harrow School and later St John’s College, Cambridge were he gained his degree. Beaton began his relationship with photography after having been introduced to his first Kodak 3A Camera and sent in his photographs under a pen name to various London society magazines. He gained acclaim after his first exhibition under the patronage of Osbert Sitwell, and, fuelled by his early success, Beaton left London for New York where he was contracted by Condé Nast Publications for his exclusive photography. He returned to England and rented Ashcombe House in Wiltshire where he entertained the rich and the famous.


In 1947, Beaton bought Reddish House where he continued to live for the rest of his life. He worked with Vogue and Vanity Fair publications photographing societies most prominent figures including the Royal Family, but was fired from American Vogue in 1938. His career flourished when the Second World War broke out and Beaton became one of the leading war photographers, best known for his images of the German blitz. After the war, Beaton worked designing sets, costumes and lighting for theatrical performances, among his achievements being the motion-picture musicals Gigi (1958) and My Fair Lady (1964). He was a well-known diarist and his life is now documented into 6 volumes spanning 1922 to 1974. He died in 1980 at the age of 76 in Reddish House.