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Slump: Britain in the 1930s

Caledonian Market, London, Owen Logan, Edith Tudor-Hart, 1931 − ¬© Photograph by Edith Tudor-Hart

Tudor-Hart knew Britain well, making several visits from 1925. She settled here in late 1933 and began to pursue a living as a photographer, specialising in portraits of children. She also continued her documentary projects, photographing in London’s markets and working-class districts. Her imagery comments on many of the key British political questions of the day: unemployment; the poor condition of workers’ housing; the desire to aid the struggle against the rising tide of fascism on the Continent. More so than in Austria, her photography develops a nuanced articulation of identity, perhaps particularly in her imagery of women and children.

Child Staring into Bakery Window, London, Owen Logan, Edith Tudor-Hart, 1935 − ¬© Photograph by Edith Tudor-Hart

Throughout this period, Tudor-Hart was a Soviet agent, arranging meetings and carrying messages. She may well have been involved in the recruitment of the so-called Cambridge spies, including Kim Philby whom she had first met in Vienna. She also supported with her camera many left-wing cultural causes, including the exhibiting society, the Artists’ International Association, and the propaganda organisation, the Film and Photo League. However, in comparison to other European parties, the British Communist movement made scant use of photography as a political weapon. Tudor-Hart’s photographs appeared only sporadically in the campaigning books and pamphlets of the era.