Written by Abigail Wharne, Archivist
Friday, 01 April 2016

Every week, I receive a fascinating enquiry from a researcher, a member of the public or an Old Brightonian – sometimes all three. In early February, Julia Webb from the National Portrait Gallery got in touch to learn more about silhouette-artist extraordinaire, Hubert Leslie.

Julia was seeking confirmation that he taught at the College, and the Brightonian magazine, as it often does, provided us with the proof. It seems Hubert had rather a positive impact on art at the College:

He was also quite a character! His description on the National Portrait Gallery’s website is brilliant:

During the tourist season he worked in the Silhouette Studio, and in the winter he put on entertainments in schools. His act combined sketching, elocution, juggling, mental telepathy, songs and mental feats. A highlight was his rendition of "S-s-sylvia's S-s-silhouette", a 1,300 word story, of which every single word begins with the letter "S", while he was cutting a silhouette of ‘Sylvia’.’

I can certainly see how he captured the boys’ imaginations.

The National Portrait Gallery have just started a crowd-sourcing project to learn more about Hubert Leslie’s Silhouettes. If you’d like to help out, more details can be found here >>

Abigail Wharne


Abigail joined the Development team in April 2015, having previously worked for the University of Sussex Special Collections, East Sussex Record Office and Towner Art Gallery. She regularly answers historical enquiries and catalogues archive material, so that it can be accessed by College staff and the public.

Abigail also manages the school’s heritage collections, including rare books and a wide range of artefacts. As a qualified teacher, she enjoys using archives to inspire and educate Brighton College pupils.

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