William Skeen was appointed the first Govt Printer of Ceylon in 1849.His brother Henry born 16 July 1831 arrived as his assistant on 11 July 1852. He died six months later on 26 December 1852 and was buried at the Galle Face Burial Grounds.
William Skeen purchased J.Parting's(who intd
photography to Ceylon) photo business for his son William Louis Henry Skeen born in 1847 and who returned to Ceylon around 1863 after studying photography at the London School of Photography. W.L.H. managed this business until his death in 1903.The shop was at 41 Chatham Street, Fort, Colombo.
William's second son G.J.A. Skeen was appointed Government Printer in 1881 and served in this position until his death in 1906.F.Skeen another son of William joined the firm in 1878 and left to establish a similar business in Rangoon in 1887. He returned to take charge of the business upon the death of W.L.H. in 1903.
The Skeen family produced excellent photographs of 19th Century Ceylon several of which I have been fortunate enough to acquire. William Skeen was the author of the
book Adam's Peak, and a book of poems called "The Knuckle"- a range of mountains in central Ceylon.Both items are rare and almost impossible to find. A modern reprint of Adams Peak was published in India in 1992. William's magnum opus however was the 426 p book called 'Early Typography' published in Colombo in 1872 which reviews the history of printing and typography from the 15 th century. A truly remarkable book.You may be able to find more information on the Skeens if you publish a notice in "The Ceylankan" the journal of the Ceylon Society of Australia.There is no cost involved. Pleaselet me know if you want it arranged.
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