Roye was one of the great figure photographers. He consistantly made
Roye was a contemporary of John Everard.
Both had similar styles but Roye's style was a bit more fluid than John
Everard's. He led a very interesting and varied life up until the time
he was murdered at the age of 96 in 2002! The second model grouping
features a figure model named Desiree. Very beautiful that Desiree!
Roye also photographed the greek godess Pamela Green.
Horace Roye - London Times, June 18, 2002
Flamboyant photographer famous for his nudes and pictures of starlets -
and for waterskiing into old age Horace Roye was one of the 20th
century's great pioneering photographers, whose familiarity with cinema
and stage stars during the war years led to international fame - and
some notoriety. As a noted photographer of (figure models), he
successfully contested the prudish obscenity laws of his day, paving the
way for others to publish work that Roye himself considered to be
pornographic. Despite retiring in 1959, he continued to encourage young
photographers, and was delighted in recent years to find a growing
retrospective interest in his portfolio.
His personal life was as unconventional as his professional milieu. He
lived in South Africa, Paris, London, Ireland and Portugal before
finally settling in the 12th-century kasbah of Rabat, Morocco. There
were romances, three marriages and many adventures along the way, and
Roye's innate artistic sense helped him to build a string of fine
properties that proved as lucrative as his photographs.
He was born Horace Roye-Narbeth in Aylesbury in 1906, the son of a
draper. On leaving Aylesbury Grammar School he wanted to become a
solicitor, but his father, hoping that he would join the family
business, insisted that he accepted a trainee's job in Marshall &
Snelgrove's drapery department. He was dismissed, however, for going to
work in his evening suit after a drunken night on the tiles, and his
life's odyssey began as he boarded a
His slight frame belied a natural ability as a boxer, and Roye helped to
pay for his passage through a series of prize fights. Once on land, he
found himself working as a farmer and sheepshearer, and he later
recounted to friends how he had to castrate rams with his teeth.
His forthright views on politics and race no doubt owed much to his
early travels. After effectively being expelled from South Africa for
diamond smuggling - although he proudly pointed out that the police
found no stones because he had cut the lining in his jacket, allowing
them to fall out before he was searched - the draper, pugilist, dancing
instructor and sheep-shearer returned to London, where he worked in the
silent movie industry and developed his love of photography.
After the end of his first marriage, to Joan Dare, an actress, he moved
to Paris, where he launched a cinematic casting directory, Le Plateau,
which included stars such as Françoise Rosay and Mireille Balin. This
gave Roye a degree of proper standing for the first time.
Returning to London in 1935, he established a photographic studio in
Chelsea, where he took conventional portraits of the likes of Cecil
Beaton, James Mason, Arturo Toscanini and Sir Henry Wood. But he was
back at his best in 1938, when George Routledge commissioned Perfect
Womanhood, a collection of (figure studies). Socially he was on top
form, too, enjoying some boisterous nights out with the young Prince
Roye's startling depiction of a (fugure) model wearing a gas mask while
pinned to a crucifix caused controversy during the Munich crisis of
1938; during the war, however, Roye's imagination was used to full
effect by the Ministry of Information, with whom he helped to compose a
propaganda photograph of a Nazi officer caught in flagrante with two
call girls. He also worked closely with Christopher Clayton Hutton in
MI9, the department devoted to prisoner-of-war escape tactics.
Before the war Roye had become the first photographer to have a
published in a national newspaper, the Daily Mirror, and afterwards he
was quickly back into his stride, selling more than two million
portraits worldwide by mail order. The Rank Organisation commissioned
him to picture its "starlets", and he worked on a new technique, the
Roye-Vala 3-D stereoscopic process, which resulted in the booklet Diana
Dors in 3-D.
Roye's fiery second marriage to a French dancer and model, Renée
Bernadeau, had ended and he had by now settled down with his third wife,
Marilyn, a Canadian model, in a partnership that would last more than 50
years. But Roye still loved the social limelight, and a picture from the
era shows him grinning from ear to ear while dining out with Audrey
Roye, who claimed to have seen more than 10,000 naked women through the
lens, always helped the police when they were investigating obscene
pictures, but he was himself prosecuted when he refused to airbrush out
pubic hair - the convention of the time - from the image of a model
called Desirée in his Unique Edition collection. He successfully
defended himself in court, arguing that the representation of beauty
should be untrammelled by prudery. "Tradition decrees," he complained,
"that a (figure model) may be as beautiful as Aphrodite - provided she
is also as impersonal as a herring."
He lived briefly in Ireland to escape the furore, but claimed that he
was forced out by the Roman Catholic priesthood, which objected to him
introducing his maids to some of the racier magazines of the decade.
After writing Nude Ego, his autobiography, Roye retired to Portugal in
1959 and, in the early 1960s, after sailing extensively along the
Algarve coast, he bought a plot of land, Praia da Luz, where he built a
series of luxury villas, which he later sold to friends, including Alan
Ball, of Lonrho, and Lord Devlin. As the Algarve's popularity grew, he
moved north to the Alentejo, south of Lisbon, where he lived quietly
until the revolution in 1974.
Known for his right-wing views and support for the dictatorship, Roye
found himself under siege, and had to take his shotgun out on the
causeway leading to his house. He was forced to sell up, and moved back
briefly to England, but found the unions, labour politics and the Winter
of Discontent unbearable.
He had bought a holiday home in the kasbah at Rabat, and he and his wife
decided to settle there in 1980. He had taken up water-skiing at the age
of 60, and enjoyed a tow along the River Bouregreg each morning with the
help of the local yacht club's speedboat. This extra-ordinary spectacle
earned him the enduring affection of the Moroccans.
At the age of 75, Roye discovered the pleasures of parasailing, and
although he stopped skiing at 78, he could often be seen, until just a
few weeks ago, descending the bougainvillea-shrouded steps of his
clifftop house for a swim in the river. He also looked after the
kasbah's extensive collection of stray cats, was a keen listener to the
BBC World Service, and loyally read The Times - "when I can afford it".
The oldest British expatriate living in Morocco, Roye was murdered there
last week. He is said to have been involved in a struggle with a painter
who allegedly broke into his bedroom and stabbed him 14 times with the
knife that Roye kept beneath his pillow.
Roye's wife died in 1993. He is survived by three children. One son
Horace Roye, photographer, was born on March 4, 1906. He was killed in
Rabat, on June 11, 2002, aged 96. -London Times (slightly edited)
Anyone interested in a vintage Roye photo, please contact me for details.