William Ian Brinkworth's collection, dated from 1901 to 1991, includes an extensive number of black and white photographs, negatives, color transparencies, books, audio tapes, manuscripts, and research materials. The manuscripts include Brinkworth's book drafts, film treatments, correspondence, historical documents, legal documents, journals and magazines in which his work was published.
Scope and Contents:
Brinkworth's black and white photographs, 35mm negatives and color transparencies form a major component of the collection and illustrate a vast array of subjects titled and arranged by Brinkworth. Many images focus on the Benin region of Nigeria, Olakun figures and shrines, hairstyles, bronze casting and Benin bronzes, tattooing, the Queens of the Oba, crafts and art objects, towns and marketplaces, seated dancing, personal adornment, agriculture and industry, and ceremonies and the daily life of Nigerian people. Subjects of special interest include the "Watchers of the Night" masquerade, the crowning of a chief in Abeokuta and the titling of a Yoruba chief. Also included are images of a Felesh priest (or "God of Thunder"), the Yoruba city of Jebba, a Popo women's cult, the Nupe people and a workshop in Bida, the University College at Ibadan and G.A. Akiola, the Aro of Igan Alade. Although the images were largely taken in Nigeria, there are a small number that depict domestic life of the Brinkworth family in England.
Brinkworth's manuscripts and personal documents include an extensive official diary from 1901 of Major W. R. Reeve-Tucker, the first British Traveling Commissioner in Nigeria. The series also includes some of Brinkworth's passports, personal notes, an "Enquiry into the Ogwashi-Uku Native Court," a treatment for the film African Priestess, essay and book drafts (many focusing on the mud figures of Benin), an issue of Functional Photography magazine featuring an article by Ian Brinkworth, correspondence, and paperwork concerning the law suit filed against Brinkworth by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Brinkworth's collection of publications contains books, pamphlets and articles from Noir Et Blanc and Picture Post featuring his photography.
Series 1 is arranged according to subject categories supplied by Brinkworth. Series 2 and 3 were kept in original order. Series 4 is organized according to Brinkworth's hand-written number annotations. All unnumbered transparencies were kept in the order in which they were received. Series 5 is arranged chronologically as well as according to Brinkworth's notes and number markings. Series 6 is arranged according to packet number, those unidentified are arranged miscellaneously. Series 7 is arranged according to subject and Series 8 is organized by tape number.
Series 1: Black and White Photographs, circa 1946-1957 (637 items; Box 1-5)
Series 2: Manuscripts and Personal Documents, 1901-1991 (65 Documents; Boxes 6-7)
Series 3: Publications, 1942-1956 (8 items; Box 8)
Series 4: 35 mm Color Transperancies, circa 1946-1957 (?)
Series 5: Black and White Negatives, circa 1946-1957 (3600 negatives; Cold Vault Shelves B5-6 and B5-7)
Series 6: Contact Sheets
Series 7: Research Materials and Inventories
Series 8: Audio Cassettes
William Ian Brinkworth (1914-2000) was born in Karagpur, India to British parents and raised in Scotland, France, Germany and England. His interest in art brought him to the Slade School of Fine Art in London where he was trained as a painter. While studying there, Brinkworth was named a Slade Scholar and awarded the Slade Summer Composition Prize.
The outbreak of World War II changed Brinkworth's career path from painter to soldier. He first served in the Infantry, later joined the Intelligence Corps and then worked with the Free French forces and First Special Air Service Regiment. Brinkworth was taken prisoner in Sardinia for two years and after his release was seconded as a liaison officer between the Foreign Office and the United Nations in 1946. Brinkworth's military service earned him the Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal and an appointment by the British Colonial Administration Service to the position of Assistant District Officer to the Resident of Warri, Nigeria in 1946. He went on to become District Officer and finally Senior District Officer of the region.
Brinkworth's professional responsibilities involved extensive travel throughout Nigeria to many peoples and regions including Warri, Abeakuta, Badagri, Benin, Ogwashiuku, Alaro, Ibaden, Asaba and Ado-Ekiti. While serving as District Officer, Brinkworth was able to incorporate his artistic training and interests with his administrative obligations, chiefly through the mediums of photography and film. Brinkworth's administrative status and extensive interaction with local peoples of Nigeria earned him the privilege of witnessing and filming cultural traditions never before or rarely seen by Westerners.
Brinkworth served as a British Officer in Nigeria until 1957 and continued to minister as an advisor to the independent Nigerian nation during its transition to self-government. He then returned to England and pursued work as a broadcaster, documentary filmmaker, photographer, lecturer and writer. In 1961 he published his first novel, Jimmy Riddle [London; Cassell & Company Ltd., 1961], which won the Putnam Award. He went on to publish the novel's sequel, The Black List [London; Cassell & Company Ltd, 1962], and several other books including his 1966 autobiography The One-Eyed Man Is King [London; Cassell & Company Ltd, 1966]. He often wrote under the pseudonym "Ian Brook." Brinkworth also published several articles in The Geographical Magazine and The West African Review.
After retiring, Brinkworth lived in France with his second wife, Marida, from 1981-1991 before returning once again to England. Much of the photographic, film and art objects from his time in Africa were lost in shipment shortly before his death in 2000. The museum received the remainder of the collection through a donation by Marida Brinkworth in 2008.
Use of original records requires an appointment. Contact Archives staff for more details.
Permission to reproduce images from the Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives must be obtained in advance. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.