My mother's photo albums had existed as a private collection for as long as I could remember. They numbered well over a hundred by the time of her death and were housed in an 1888 barrister bookcase that had belonged to her grandfather. The challenge, she once told me, had been to find photo albums that were similar in thickness, height and binding to the first one she had in 1944 when, at the age of seven, she started her first photo album with an impressive new camera from an uncle on her birthday.
That first album, which lived at the bottom, left corner of the barrister bookcase for the next 60 years, contained an unusually large number of pictures of her parents and brothers sleeping, invoking Victorian images of photos of the dead. The penmanship under each photo was that of a girl just learning cursive, and each chronicled the photo by month, year, name(s) of the photographed and town the photo was taken in.
The symbiosis of it all was important to her. She remembered the bookcas