Press Release” Brian May/Prof Roger Taylor Book Talk – Aberdeen


Brian May

For those who couldn’t get tickets to see Brian and Prof Roger Taylor’s 3-D talk on George Washington Wilson at Edinburgh Literary Festival, there is now another opportunity to catch them in Scotland….this time in Aberdeen, the birthplace of the Victorian photographer.



Dr Brian May to join Prof Roger Taylor to launch new book George Washington Wilson: Artist and Photographer in 3-D in Aberdeen

George Washington Wilson
George Washington Wilson


He may be best known as the guitarist for legendary band Queen but Brian May will visit Aberdeen in August to celebrate the work of another great who rose to fame thanks to a very different royal connection.

The musician and song writer will appear at the University of Aberdeen in his capacity as photographic historian and Director of The London Stereoscopic Company for the launch of a new book dedicated to Scotland’s great Victorian photographer George Washington Wilson, who hailed from the city, written by the aptly named Professor Roger Taylor.

Wilson rose to fame after he was appointed to document the construction of Balmoral Castle and became Photographer to the Queen.

His innovations in stereoscopic photography during the 1850s created some of the most captivating stereo (3-D) images of the Victorian period.

A century later this type of photography captured the imagination of a young Brian May when cards featuring 3-D images were given away free with breakfast cereal in the 1950s. This led to a lifelong passion for collecting stereo cards and the emergence of his London Stereoscopic Company (LSC), dedicated to restoring and republishing Victorian classic cards, as well as original stereoscopic works on other subjects.

May has contributed to a new book George Washington Wilson, Artist and Photographer written by Professor Roger Taylor, the world authority on George Washington Wilson. It will be launched in the city on August 16 at the University of Aberdeen which holds the largest collection of Wilson’s work.

Wilson was a technical and aesthetic innovator and when he began taking two shots of a scene which when viewed together created a three-dimensional image, it quickly became a craze first in Britain and then across the world.

To view the images in their full glory, a special viewer is required and to mark the entry of LSC into book publishing, May created the OWL stereoscope. This unique viewing device allows modern audiences to see the photographs in the same way as their Victorian counterparts and is included with every book.

May will join Professor Taylor for a celebration of the life of George Washington Wilson at the University of Aberdeen’s King’s College campus. It is a fitting venue for the event as the University holds some 38,000 of the estimated 40,000 glass plate images Wilson captured around the world during his prolific career.

The pair will trace Wilson’s career and show key examples of his work, as featured in the book, using a stunning new 3-D projection system. The audience will also be provided with the highest of quality 3-D glasses to enjoy the images as they were intended. P

rofessor Phil Hannaford, Interim Senior Vice-Principal of the University of Aberdeen, said he was delighted to be able to celebrate the launch of the book in Wilson’s home city.

“The city of Aberdeen and the University has a long association with George Washington Wilson – a true pioneer of photography – and we are proud not only to hold the world’s largest collection of his work but to have undertaken extensive work to digitise this wonderful collection and make it available to the public.

“The book George Washington Wilson, Artist and Photographer is an outstanding work which will bring his work to new audiences.

“We are delighted to be able to welcome Brian May and Professor Roger Taylor to our campus to celebrate the launch of this new work and look forward to hearing their fascinating insights into his life and work.”

Brian May said: “It’s my great pleasure to introduce to you all this beautiful book, at the request of its author, my great friend Professor Roger Taylor. It’s been many years in the making, and I’m confident it will have been worth every minute. It presents the life and work of celebrated Scottish landscape photographer George Washington Wilson, who with great skill and flair, photographed the unique beauties of the Scottish countryside in the 1860s with his stereoscopic camera. The resulting 3-D images proved immensely successful and established Wilson’s national reputation as a pre-eminent photographer. Now, courtesy of the Lite OWL included with every book, Wilson’s images can be experienced in exactly the same way they were enjoyed by the Victorian public.”

Tickets for the launch event, which will be held in the Art’s Lecture Theatre, King’s College, Old Aberdeen on August 16, are available from

George Washington Wilson: Artist and Photographer, by Prof Roger Taylor, Intro by Brian May, The London Stereoscopic Company, publishes on 15th August 2018, £30 [ORDER]
Follow @londonstereo

About George Washington Wilson, born in Aberdeen in 1823.
When photography was first introduced to Britain in the early 19th century, Scotland adopted the process with great interest and enthusiasm. A leading practitioner was George Washington Wilson whose innovations in stereoscopic photography created some of the most captivating 3-D photographs of the period and established his reputation, both nationally and internationally. He began his career as a portrait miniature painter, but in the early 1850s he took up photography and established a portrait studio in his home town of Aberdeen. One of his earliest commissions was to photograph the construction of the new Balmoral Castle, and the success of these studies led to other assignments, including portrait sessions of Queen Victoria and members of the Royal Family. He was subsequently appointed Photographer to the Queen. By the 1860’s Wilson had established his national reputation through a series of technical and aesthetic innovations that significantly advanced the art of stereoscopy and topographic photography. As a result, his business as a photographer, publisher and retailer of images for the tourist market rapidly expanded, and within a few years he dominated the field.

Making the collection available to the public
In 2011 the University of Aberdeen made available online more than 35,000 high resolution digital versions of images originally taken between 1853 and 1908 by the Aberdeen photographic firm George Washington Wilson & Co.

The images, taken throughout Scotland the UK and beyond, allow the examination of details previously hidden from the naked eye. The George Washington Wilson online archive can be viewed at

About the author
Prof Roger Taylor has spent his entire professional life working with photography, initially as a commercial and industrial photographer before moving into teaching on the Fine Art course at Sheffield College of Art during the 1960’s. It was here that he became fascinated by the history of the medium and began his research into George Washington Wilson whilst studying for his Masters Degree in Victorian Studies at Leicester University. His commitment to photographic history led to his appointment at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, in Bradford, where he was responsible for installation of a new Kodak Museum, which opened in 1989. Seven years later he took early retirement to pursue his researches into midVictorian photography, specialising in the emergence of early processes in Britain 1839-1865. Following a number of research fellowships within major collections in Canada and America he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow at De Montfort University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. In 2014 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Derby in recognition of his significant contributions to photographic history.

About the London Stereoscopic Company & the birth of the OWL
Some time in 1854 ‘The London Stereoscope Company was born. Its business was selling stereo views and viewers to the public, and they were leaders in a huge boom – a craze which swept England, Europe, and eventually the United States too, of stereo photographs of every conceivable subject, which, viewed by means of a stereoscope, presented scenes in life-like three dimensions. In a world which had never experienced Television, the Movies, or the Internet, this was a major sensation. In February 1856, The London Stereoscopic Company (LSC) advertised, in the Photographic Journal, “The largest collection in Europe, upwards of 100,000 stereo views.” Brian May’s introduction to stereoscopy was as a child finding 3-D cards in his breakfast cereal. In the 1950s Weetabix gave away free coloured stereo cards in their packets, along with an opportunity to send off one-and- sixpence for the stereoscope required to view them. Brian, discovering that he could free- view them without the viewer too, was entranced, and quickly figured out how to make his own stereo views, and was hooked for life. Scouring Portobello Road market for stereoscopic items some years later, Brian discovered the intriguing Diableries cards, which stirred a special passion, which was to lead to the Diableries book 40 years later. While studying Astronomy at Imperial College, Brian became a regular viewer at Christie’s photographic auctions, at the time a rich source of long forgotten stereo views from the 1850s onwards which were turning up in people’s attics. In 2008 Brian realised his dream of recreating The London Stereoscopic Company (LSC), its aim to bring the magic of true stereoscopy to the modern world. In order to share Victorian 3D, Brian designed his own OWL stereoscope, which is now produced in large quantities. The OWL has become a new standard around the world in stereoscopic viewing. In 2011 Brian met a redoubtable French scholar, Denis Pellerin, one of the world’s experts on French and English Photographic History. Their two passions connected immediately, and Denis became Brian’s curator, conservator, researcher, and co-author. The London Stereoscopic Company is now restoring and republishing Victorian classic cards, as well as original stereoscopic works on other subjects. Finally the LSC completed the picture by entering into book publishing, each new work accompanied by an OWL stereoscope included in the package. George Washington Wilson, Artist and Photographer will be the LSC’s sixth title. The London Stereoscopic Company is the ONLY publisher in the world dedicated exclusively to publishing stereoscopic works. The LSC’s mission is to share the world’s greatest 3-D images, from Victorian time to present day.