LONDON - British photographer Jane Bown, who captured Samuel Beckett, John Lennon and Queen Elizabeth II in iconic black and white portraits, has died aged 89, her former employer The Observer reported on Sunday.
The newspaper employed Bown in 1949, and she came to the office each week for over half a century, continuing to work with 35mm film and becoming part of the "DNA" of the newspaper, according to editor John Mulholland.
"She produced some of the most memorable and insightful images of prominent cultural and political figures taken during the 20th century," Mulholland said.
"Her beautifully observed pictures have become part of our cultural landscape."
Her first assignment for the newspaper was to capture the philosopher Bertrand Russell at breakfast in 1949, a task which reportedly "terrified" her.
She went on to capture French writer Jean Cocteau, US actor and director Orson Welles, The Beatles, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, singer Bjork, and Queen Elizabeth II on her 80th birthday.
Perhaps her most famous work is her much-reproduced 1976 photograph of Samuel Beckett, in which the Irish playwright's creased face glares out of the dark of an alley beside a London theatre, where she caught him slipping away from a rehearsal.
Bown's motto was "photographers should neither be seen nor heard", she liked to finish a shoot in 10 minutes, and she disarmed subjects with a "disguise as a respectable little middle class woman from Hampshire", according to the Observer.
"Nobody has taken so many wonderful photographs of so many great faces, with such little fuss as Jane Bown," said photographer and former picture editor Eamon McCabe.
"She was a reluctant star, hating the attention of being well known herself."