Edith Tudor-Hart (1908–1973) was an Austrian-British photographer, communist-sympathiser and spy for the Soviet Union.
Being a Soviet agent doesn’t seem to have come naturally to the photographer Edith Tudor-Hart (née Suschitzky). For one thing she used the code name “Edith”, which was not subtle. For another, when she moved to London from her native Vienna in 1933 she liked to attend and photograph demonstrations led by the Communist Party of Great Britain.
As a photographer working in the period her success was limited as well, at least in terms of her influence. It wasn’t that Tudor-Hart wasn’t innovative – she was, breaking the mould of static, studio-based portraits of children by introducing a more naturalistic style which showed them in their own environments, such as her photograph of children being treated for rickets using ultraviolet light. It was more that because Special Branch had her under surveillance (doing so until her death, in 1963), the Ministry of Information blacklisted her work and Fleet Street followed its lead.
Tudor-Hart’s work had a strong social message, and she saw the camera as a political weapon. Her documentary projects took her from street markets in London’s East End to the slum housing areas of Tyneside and south Wales. Her recurring themes were child welfare, unemployment and homelessness.