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In the Blink of an Eye

Ali Bacon, MA 1974

Described as beautiful, accomplished and profoundly moving, 'In the Blink of an Eye' is a re-imagining of the life of Edinburgh artist David Octavius Hill (1802-1870) and his partnership with St Andrews photographer Robert Adamson. He has Edinburgh at his feet but who will be by his side?

In 1843, D.O. Hill is commissioned to paint the portraits of 400 ministers of the new Free Church. Only when he meets Adamson, recently arrived in Edinburgh and an early master of the new and fickle art of photography, does Hill’s task begin to look feasible. Hill is soon bewitched by the art of light and shade. His commission is laid aside as he and Adamson become the darlings of Edinburgh society, immortalising people from all walks of life with their subtle and artistic images. Many of these are women with whom the widower Hill forms a personal bond, but when his partnership with Adamson comes to an end he is still a single man.

'In the Blink of an Eye' tells his story in the words of those who were beguiled by his artistry and charismatic charm. Tender, tragic and sometimes humorous, these voices come together in a story of art and science, love and loss, friendship and photography.

Ali Bacon spent several years researching the background to this book which with its connections to St Andrews (excerpts have been read at the St Andrews Photography Festival) will resonate with many graduates, particularly those interested in the history, art and photography of Victorian Scotland.

Its innovative use of the short story form also tells this intriguing story in a uniquely compelling manner.

Keywords: St Andrews, Edinburgh, Photography, Historical Fiction, Fictional Biography

ISBN: (paperback): 9780993599729; (digital): 9780993599736