Richard Brown

“Richard Brown [was] a leading expert in early British cinema and one of the contributors to the Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema book and website. He was a freelance historian and co-author with Barry Anthony of A Victorian Enterprise: The History of the British Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1897-1915 (1999) and The Kinetoscope: A British History (2017). His speciality was the economics of the early film business, to which he brought a rigour and clarity which had seldom been seen before in film studies. Known for being resolutely un-digital, his typewritten letters were legendary. He was a tireless researcher and always genial company. He will be much missed” (

In Memoriam Richard Brown
By Bryony Dixon, BFI National Archive

“Richard Brown is a great loss – one of very few historians who profoundly understood the value and use of business records. Two historians of the Biograph Company gone in such a short time. Such as shame as interest will no doubt be sparked with the restoration of the surviving Biograph films from BFI, MoMA and EYE. Richard was also like Paul Spehr a man with a wry sense of humour and a definite twinkle in the eye. He will be missed.”

In Memoriam Richard Brown
By Peter Domankiewicz

“When I was participating in an event at the BFI in London last year, the rumour went around that Richard Brown was going to attend and I was very excited – and somewhat nervous – at the thought I might finally get to meet him. In the end he didn’t show, so it never happened. But I can’t shake the feeling that I meet Richard Brown everywhere, in anything I ever read about early British cinema – more often than not, cited as the source of some interesting piece of information, unearthed in a most unexpected place.

“He apparently eschewed modern technology, finding the company of his typewriter quite sufficient to his needs, and yet commanded research skills that outstripped the most internet-savvy of us. People like Richard Brown and Paul Spehr (who I fortunately did get a chance to talk with and thank for his work), through their publications, through their generosity in the support of the work of others, through their very existence, lay down a challenge to the rest of us to up our game.”