Photographer Jane Bown dies at age of 89

Portraits, including that of Beckett, became trademark images, says Observer editor

Top photographer Jane Bown, who worked for the Observer for more than half a century, has died at the age of 89, the newspaper said.

Bown joined the paper in 1949 and, declining all offers from other would-be employers, continued to appear in the office every week for more than 50 years, turning in “dazzlingly beautiful” images for news stories and features, it said.

Many of her photographs became trademark images of her subjects, including her portrait of the playwright Samuel Beckett, in an alley beside the Royal Court Theatre.

Bown was made an MBE in 1985 and CBE in 1995. Observer editor John Mulholland called her one of the greatest photographers of her generation. "During more than 50 years working for the Observer, she produced some of the most memorable and insightful images of prominent cultural and political figures taken during the 20th Century – from the Queen to the Beatles, Samuel Beckett to Bjork, John Betjeman to Bob Hope, her beautifully observed pictures have become part of our cultural landscape.


"She is part of the Observer's DNA – her contribution to the paper's history, as well as to Britain's artistic legacy, is immense, and will long survive her. She was loved by her colleagues and adored by our readers. We will miss her hugely." Bown had been frail for some time and in hospital after a recent fall. She died at her home in Hampshire, with members of her family. – (AP)