Joseph John Elliott (1835-1903) and Clarence Edmund Fry (1840-1897) founded the celebrated photography studio of Elliott & Fry in 1863. Their business succeeded by offering noted actors, scientists, politicians, and writers a free photographic portrait, which could then be reproduced on hundreds of cartes-de-visite for sale to the Victorian public. By 1886, they had outgrown their studio at 55 Baker Street, Portman Square, and opened a second branch in South Kensington.
Elliott & Fry received a commission in 1870 to provide photographs for a deluxe London guidebook. Twelve portraits of contemporary actresses and actors were chosen to augment a series of steel engravings. Hundreds of original photographs had to be hand-trimmed and pasted onto pages with lithographed borders to illustrate these volumes. A lively descriptive text provides details on contemporary hotels, parks, clubs, theaters, markets, railway routes, and houses of trade.