Eadweard Muybridge (1830- 1904), the father of motion photography, was born in Kingston upon Thames, UK, and christened Edward James Muggeridge. He later changed his surname first to Muygridge, then to Muybridge and spelt his Christian name as Eadweard - an Anglo-Saxon spelling, which he may have seen on the plinth of the coronation stone inaugurated at Kingston church in 1850.
Muybridge was a young man when he left Kingston for America. The exact year of his departure is uncertain, but by 1856 he was established as a bookseller and a publisher's agent in San Francisco, trading under the name E.J. Muygridge. In 1860 he was injured in a stage coach crash whilst travelling overland from San Francisco to New York for a visit to Europe.
Muybridge returned to America in about 1866 to become a professional photographer. He attained some notoriety as a landscape photographer, and in 1872 Leland Stanford, a horse breeder, invited him to photograph his horses. Stanford, set on developing the greatest racing stable in the West, was keen on using any available kind of scientific research to reach his goal. At the time there was disagreement about whether or not all four feet of a horse left the ground at one time during the gallop. Stanford funded Muybridge to develop some way of photographing the horse in motion, and Muybridge developed several cameras, which resulted in the Zoopraxiscope, or first motion camera. He spent most of the rest of his life developing it, and the results of his work, The Human Figure in Motion and Animal Locomotion, became the seminal works on the topic for artists and animators.
He left America after a tragedy involving his wife, much younger than him, who committed adultery not long after the marriage. There was a strong suspicion that his 6-month-old son was the child of the other man: driven mad when he found out, Muybridge shot and killed the man at a house party full of witnesses. He got off, unusually at the time, by claiming that the coach accident he had suffered years ago had unhinged him. However, the notoriety and press-hounding proved too much for him. He fled across South America in 1894, still taking photographs, and eventually returned to Kingston, where he died in 1904, leaving the Zoopraxiscope and all his work to the local borough.