Baird Television eye of the world logo

Book & Thesis Reviews

John Logie Baird: A Life

My Father: Reith of the BBC

And the World Listened: the Biography of Captain Leonard F. Plugge

Tube: The Invention of Television

Enhanced Visualization: Making Space for 3-D Images

Images Across Space

The Three Dimensions of John Logie Baird

The Ostrers & Gaumont British

The Master Switch

Three Steps to Victory and Sir Edward Appleton

The Perfect Witch and All to Play for

Armchair Nation by Joe Moran

Paul Marshall's PhD Thesis

Film & Play Reviews

School for Secrets (1946) and Castles in the Sky (2014)

Heart to Heart

Books on people in J.L. Baird's circle

John Logie Baird was a public figure during the second half of his life and his circle included many interesting people who were also public figures. Several of these are mentioned in recently published books which are noted below.

Kew Edwin Shelley (18941964)

Mr. Shelley was a London barrister who helped Baird to form a new television company in 1944 and later became co-executor of his estate. Shelley was a paternal grandson of Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee (1844-1906) who had been the first president of the Indian National Congress. In 1921 Shelley had changed his surname from Bonnerjee by deed poll. His background is detailed in Family History, by Janaki Agnes Penelope Majumdar (edited by Antoinette Burton, published 2003, Oxford University Press). In her memoir, written in 1935, Mrs. Majumdar provides a personal account of two distinguished anglophile Indian families.

William Le Queux (18691927)

Le Queux was a phenomenally successful spy story writer of the early 20th century and his writings are said to have led to the formation of MI5. He was living in Hastings while Baird was doing his early television experiments and he gave moral (but not financial) encouragement. A detailed biography, William Le Queux, Master of Mystery, has been written by Chris Patrick and Stephen Baister and privately published by them in 2007.

John C.W. Reith, (18891971)

Sir John Reith was Director-General of the BBC while Baird and his company were trying to convince the BBC to broadcast television. In a new memoir entitled My father, Reith of the BBC,(2006, St.Andrew Press, Edinburgh), Marista Leishman provides a unique view of her father's prickly and eccentric personality, against the backdrop of his public achievements and eventual elevation to the peerage. This book confirms that Reith did not like television, though his personal relationship with Baird was not as bad as has sometimes been alleged and a review is given on this website. (see above)

Book cover Ostrers and Gaumont BritishIsidore Ostrer (18891975)

In 1932, Baird Television Ltd. was rescued from financial difficulties when it was taken over by a major UK film company, the Gaumont British Picture Co. Its leader, Isidore Ostrer, believed that television was an opportunity for the film industry, rather than a threat. He foresaw that large-screen television of a news or sporting event could be shown to cinema audiences as well as conventional feature films. This book entitled The Ostrers and Gaumont British has been written by Isidore's nephew Nigel Ostrer and a review is given on this website. (see above)

Leonard Frank Plugge (18891981)

Mr. Plugge was a pioneer of commercial radio broadcasting to the UK in the 1920s and 1930s, when such programmes were transmitted from continental Europe for legal reasons. He first met Baird in the Hastings days and they met frequently in London during World War II, when Plugge was an M.P. and chairman of the Parliamentary Scientific Committee. A biography of Plugge entitled: And the World Listened -- Leonard Frank Plugge, by Keith Wallis, (Kelly Books, UK) appeared in March 2008 and a review is given on this website. (see above)

Books about J.L. Baird

book cover Images Across Space(1) An important book appeared in 2009 under the title Images Across Space. The electronic imaging of Baird television. The author, Dr. Douglas Brown, is Director of the Science and Technology Forum at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. The book is mostly based on his master's and Ph.D. theses (1996, 2000). A detailed review by Malcolm Baird is available on this website. (see above)

[this picture of Dr. Brown by courtesy of Helensburgh Heritage Trust]

(2) The Master Switch is a detailed economic history of major electronic media (including television) by Professor Tim Wu of Columbia University. A review by Malcolm Baird appears on this website.

(3) A 340-page television history has appeared from Lulu Publications (2011) under the title Spinning Discs, Mirrors and Electrons. It is by Australian authors Robert Forster and Douglas Grant, who give a broad technical coverage from the early scientific observations in the 19th century up to the arrival of video recording in about 1960. The book contains a chapter on J.L.Baird, as well as details on the work of less well-known pioneers such as Tihanyi (Hungary), Von Ardenne (Germany), and Walton (England). This book was favourably reviewed in the March 2012 issue of the AWA Journal which circulates to the members of the Antique Wireless Association of the USA.

three dimensions of JLB (4) On 15 May 2012, Dr. Douglas Brown's new book entitled "The Three Dimensions of John Logie Baird" was published by the Radio Society of Great Britain. John Logie Baird is remembered as the inventor of television with the qualification that his first system was mechanical. Dr. Brown's book sets out Baird's later work in electronic colour, 3-D, and holographic television and his significant contributions to other information sciences and their resulting technologies. It goes into detail about how the systems worked and their later development after John Logie Baird's death. Further details and ordering information can be obtained at the following link: Malcolm Baird has recently reviewed the book on this website. (see above).

(5) In May 1927 John Logie Baird made an historic television transmission from his company office in London, to the Central Hotel in Glasgow. The hotel has recently been refurbished and renamed the Grand Central Hotel. Baird's part in the hotel's history is described in a recent book: Glasgow's Grand Central Hotel: Glasgow's most loved hotel, by Bill Hicks and Jill Scott, published in January 2012 by Waverley Books.

John Logie Baird: a life

hardback * c. 450 pages * 70 b/w illustrations

John Logie Baird: a life ...a meticulously researched story based on first hand interviews and quoting many new documentary sources, some of which have only recently become available. At long last we have a book that sounds and feels like the truth about the man who was the first in the world to demonstrate working television (Michael Bennett-Levy, 2002) here for the rest of the review

"Kamm and Baird, the latter the inventor's son, paint a strikingly clear portrait of the inventor who started it all." (Russell A Potter, The Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (US) 2004)

Read the full text of the JLB promotional brochure here

Available in the UK (incl. international orders) from

Available in the USA from

Available in Canada from

Research materials The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh has recently acquired a large collection of research information used in the writing of the above book by Antony Kamm and Malcolm Baird. The Accession Number is 17274.

Television and Me: The Memoirs of John Logie Baird

paperback * c. 160 pages * heavily illustrated

Book cover - Television and MeThe autobiography of John Logie Baird. A new version of his memoirs, only published previously as a specialist monograph, are written with blunt candour and caustic wit. His memoirs cover the wild escapades of his early business career and the dramatic pioneering days of his scientific work.

"Television and Me" was named Critic's choice, Scottish book of the year 2004.

Excerpt: Baird's Story is Pick of the Best

(Scottish Daily Mail, Jan. 7th, 2005) by Tom Kyle

It is rare indeed to find a book of real literary, scientific and historical importance.

So the appearance in the spring of the little-known and almost unpublished, autobiography of the most influential Scot who ever lived was the most significant publishing event of the year. Television and Me: The Memoirs of John Logie Baird ... was living proof that the best books need not always be the most lavish or expensive.

Baird tells his own story - from his Helensburgh boyhood to the great and precarious days when the first television pictures were transmitted, to his ultimate betrayal by the BBC - with a caustic turn of phrase and a self-deprecating wit.

His memoir is a fabulous distillation of all the joy and bitterness, hurt and humour of an extraordinary man. I said at the time I doubted there would be a better written, more interesting or more important book published in 2004. I see no reason to revise that opinion now.

The Scots Magazine, September 2004

"...Baird was not given the recognition which was his by right during his lifetime."