The John Minihan Collection

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John Minihan was born in Dublin in 1946 and raised in Athy, County Kildare. At the age of 12 he was brought to live in London, and went on to become an apprenticephotographer with the Daily Mail. At 21 he became the youngest staff photographer for the Evening Standard. For thirty years he remained in London, returning every year to his hometown of Athy to record the people and their daily lives.

In between documenting Athy on visits home, Minihan continued his career on Fleet Street, which included taking the iconic snap of a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer in the garden of the nursery where she worked, the morning sun to her back, her legs in silhouette through her skirt.

Over the years Minihan developed a close relationship with many writers and his photographs of Samuel Beckett show a particular affinity between the two men. His friendship with Samuel Beckett produced some of the most remarkable photographs ever taken of the writer.

John Minihan first made contact with Samuel Beckett when he was directing Endgame at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London, in the summer of 1980. A friend told Minihan that Beckett was staying at the Hyde Park hotel. He left a note for the playwright, rang the next morning and was put through.

"That was our first communication," says Minihan. “Beckett's note read 'Mr Minihan, thank you for your note. I would love to see the photographs of the wake.' My first impression was of a gentle voice”.

"The following morning, I was told by the receptionist to go up to room 604. At the room, Mr Beckett opened the door with a smile on his face. He put me immediately at ease. He was dressed casually, wearing flip-flops. The room was a small one at the back of the hotel, overlooking the park”.

"'We sat down and I showed him the photographs. He looked at each one for a long time, and asked me about the people in them. He said. 'These are important pictures.' At the end of the meeting, after half an hour, I asked if I could go down to the Riverside and take some photographs there. He agreed, so I spent the next few days at the theatre."