Mason, Elizabeth 1909 - 2008


Elizabeth Mason was born 18th December 1909 in London and died 18th October 2008 in Brighton. The daughter of a piano manufacturer, she did not attend school but had a musical education studying piano and violin in London, Toronto, and Paris. Following her studies abroad, she returned to London in 1927 where she continued to study and also to teach piano. Mason took up photography as an assistant to a photographer friend in the 1930s, learning on the job.

Mason volunteered for war work in 1939 and was offered a place on a war photography course, but she did not take this up, going instead into nursing. She nursed at the Royal Masonic Hospital, Hammersmith, which had been taken over as a military hospital. After the war she could not continue nursing as she had no formal qualification. She returned to photography, working for a few years as an assistant to portrait photographers, first Howard Coster and then Robin Adler. Howard Coster worked under the credit line 'Coster, Photographer of Men' in his studio in Essex Street, London photographing leading figures in politics and the arts.

Her combined medical and photographic experience led to locum photography work in hospitals and then the chance of a staff job at St James’s Hospital, Balham. Elizabeth Mason worked as medical photographer at St James Hospital from 1949 – 1965. When she resigned from St James’s in 1965 she did so to return to nursing as an SEN, still being unqualified, for the 3 years before reaching retirement age.

For several years Mason was a member of the IBP Medical Group committee and convenor of its sub-committee on training the trainee medical photographer. She was an Associate of the IBP and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in medical photography. She was also deputy chairman of the Royal Photographic Society Medical Group.