Photo of the Valley of the shadow of death

Roger Fenton, The valley of the shadow of death. Dirt road in ravine scattered with cannonballs.
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs LC-USZC4-9217

This website publishes faithful reproductions and transcripts of letters sent originally by Roger Fenton and subsequently copied out by family and friends during his "Photographic Trip to the Crimea" in 1855. The Crimean War, which lasted from 1853 to 1856, was fought mainly on the Crimean Peninsula and it was the first war to be covered systematically by photographers and newspaper reporters. During his 4 month trip, Roger Fenton took 360 photographs, including the famous "valley of the shadow of death" picture above, and wrote numerous letters home. Twenty five of these letters have survived in the form of two letter books, one is Annie Grace Fenton's letter book and another is Joseph Fenton's letter book.

This website is a result of a collaborative project initiated by De Montfort University, using the two surviving letter books in the collections of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, now the National Media Museum. This is the first occasion that all the surviving letters have been published in full.

Select a letterbook using the links at the top of each page and then view the letters using the drop down lists that appear. You can compare different versions of the same letter, or compare the handwritten version with its transcript. You can also follow links to Fenton's photographs of places, people and events described in the letters.