Wordsworth Donisthorpe

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Wordsworth Donisthorpe (2).png
Wordsworth Donisthorpe filmed London's Trafalgar Square traffic in 1890; these are the surviving 10 frames

Wordsworth Donisthorpe (Leeds, 24 March 1847 – Shottermill, 30 January 1914)[1] was an English barrister,[2] individualist anarchist[3] and inventor, pioneer of cinematography and chess enthusiast. His father was George E. Donisthorpe, also an inventor;[4] his brother, Horace Donisthorpe, was a myrmecologist.

Donisthorpe spoke on anarchism at a conference organised by the Fabian Society in 1886.[5] He was associated with the Liberty and Property Defence League and edited their Jus journal until his split from the League in 1888.[2][6]

In 1885, Donisthorpe was co-founder of the British Chess Association and the British Chess Club.[4]

Donisthorpe filed for a patent in 1876, for a film camera, which he named a "kinesigraph."[4] The object of the invention was to:

According to Donisthorpe, he produced a model of this camera around the late 1870s.[8] In 1890 he also produced, together with his cousin W. C. Crofts, a moving picture of London's Trafalgar Square.[9] The camera that produced this moving picture was patented in 1889 along with the projector necessary to show the motion frames.[10]


  • Principles of Plutology. London: Williams & Norgate. 1876.
  • The claims of labour, or, Serfdom, Wagedom, and Freedom. London: Samuel Tinsley & Co. 1880.
  • Empire and Liberty, a Lecture on the Principles of Local Government. London: Liberty and Property Defence League. 1886.
  • Labour capitalization. London: G. Harmsworth & Co. 1887.
  • Individualism, a System of Politics. London: Macmillan. 1889.
  • Love and Law: An Essay on Marriage. London: W. Reeves. 1893.
  • Law in a Free State. London: Macmillan. 1895.
  • Down the stream of civilization. London: George Newnes. 1898.


  1. ^ Gaige, Jeremy (1987). Chess Personalia, A Biobibliography. McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 0-7864-2353-6.
  2. ^ a b Mingardi, Alberto (2011). Herbert Spencer. Continuum. p. 123. ISBN 9780826424860.
  3. ^ Edward Bristow quotes Donisthorpe in the Westminster Gazette: "The Late Lord Bramwell, Tolstoi, Herbert Spencer, Benjamin Tucker, Vaillart, Auberon Herbert, J.H Levy, Kropotkin, the late Charles Bradlaugh, Yves Guyot, Caserio, and thousands of smaller fry, including myself, are anarchists". Bristow, Edward (1970). "The defence of liberty and property in Britain, 1880-1914". Yale University. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ a b c d Herbert, Stephen; Coe, Brian (2000). "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  5. ^ Pease, Edward R. (1916). The History of the Fabian Society. p. 47. ISBN 9781465502483.
  6. ^ Ryley, Peter (2013). Making Another World Possible: Anarchism, Anti-capitalism and Ecology in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Britain. Bloomsbury. p. 60–69. ISBN 9781441153777.
  7. ^ Burns, R. W. (1998). Television: An International History of the Formative Years. London: Institution of Engineering and Technology. ISBN 0-85296-914-7.
  8. ^ "Cinema Studies". 1960.
  9. ^ Burns, Paul T. "The History of The Discovery of Cinematography - 1885 - 1889". Retrieved 10 May 2009. and "Ten Remaining Frames Of Donisthorpe's 1890 'Trafalgar Square' Footage Come To Life" (GIF). Retrieved 10 May 2009.
  10. ^ Herbert, S. (1998). Industry, Liberty, and a Vision: Wordsworth Donisthorpe's Kinesigraph. London: The Projection Box. ISBN 0-9523941-3-8.

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