John Thomson was born on June 12, 1837 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Thomson began photographing in Bangkok, Siam, and Cambodia. When he returned he was elected to the Royal Geographical Society and published his first book entitled, "The Antiquities of Cambodia" in 1866. Thomson was best known for his photographs that appeared in "Street Life in London," published in twelve monthly installments between February 1877 and January 1878, illustrating the life and occupations of the London poor. Each installment contained several photographs by Thomson printed with the Woodburytype process, accompanied by case histories written by Adolphe Smith (also Adolphe Smith Headingly), a journalist and trades union activist. Thompson remained in England and was appointed photographer to the British Royal family by Queen Victoria in 1881. Thomson retired in 1910 and moved back to Edinburgh with his wife until his death in 1921.