Watkins, Margaret (1884–1969)

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Watkins, Margaret (1884–1969)

Scottish photographer . Name variations: Meta Gladys Watkins. Born in 1884 in Hamilton, Canada; died in 1969 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Margaret Watkins was born Meta Gladys Watkins in 1884 in Hamilton, Canada, to Scottish parents, and became interested in photography in 1900. She studied her craft with Clarence White in New York City from 1914 to 1916, at which time he invited her to join the staff of his school. In 1916, Watkins became a professional photographer, associated with the studio on Jane Street in Greenwich Village. From 1916 until 1930, she produced still lifes, portraits, landscapes and nudes and exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. Her work influenced many young photographers including Anton Bruehl, Laura Gilpin , Paul Outerbridge, Ralph Steiner and Doris Ulmann . Watkins joined the Pictorial Photographers of America and in 1920 edited the organization's journal. During the 1920s, she worked for J. Walter Thompson, a New York ad agency, where she did advertising photography for Macy's department store.

In 1928, Watkins traveled throughout Europe and the Soviet Union, and in 1930 she produced documentary photos in both Moscow and Leningrad. She traveled to Glasgow, Scotland, in 1931, where she lingered to care for four elderly aunts, remaining with them until the last one died in 1939. With the onset of World War II, she found herself stranded in Scotland where she subsequently lived for the next 30 years. Watkins led a quiet, reclusive life and died there in 1969. Her neighbor and executor, Joseph Mulholland, discovered over 200 photographs after her death.


Rosenblum, Naomi. A History of Women Photographers. NY: Abbeville, 1994.

Judith C. Reveal , freelance writer, Greensboro, Maryland

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