Obituaries: Patrick Matthews

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The Independent Online
Patrick Matthews' second career started when he photographed Cecil Beaton's cat in a bed of nettles.

The picture had such impact that he decided to make what he could of his beloved daughter Sarah's teddy-bear. When that, too, responded to his lens, he decided with his wife, Mollie, to see if children, who loved their own teddies at home, would enjoy children's books about teddies as well. They did, and Matthews' "Teddy Edward" series of children's books was a great success.

There were 19 titles, many of which passed through several editions. Teddy Edward Enterprises went into BBC television (in 13 episodes, with Richard Baker as the irresistible voice). There was merchandising, comics, and, best of all, travel. Matthews went with his wife and Teddy Edward down the Grand Canyon; he flew to a tiny hotel 18,000 feet up Mount Everest; he survived a trip in a tree-trunk pirogue in the Southern Sahara, up the River Niger to Timbuktu; he took his teddy to India, and Europe. At London Airport, the customs officer asked him to open his case. Surprised to find a teddy-bear inside, he then relaxed with a knowing smile: "Oh, that's Teddy Edward," he said.

Patrick Matthews was associated first with magazines; he worked for Conde Nast, the owners of Vogue, writing and illustrating, from 1937 to 1939, then from 1946 to 1954 and from 1965 to 1971, nearly 20 years in all. After the Second World War, he was invited to start House and Garden as a free-standing magazine (before the war it had been an occasional supplement to Vogue). He asked who were the staff, and was told "You". He was managing editor for three years, and photographed many gardens for the new magazine.

He then became managing director of Vogue Studios, in which capacity he employed and worked with some of the world's most eminent photographers. He was responsible for the photographs taken of the Royal Family in Buckingham Palace by Cecil Beaton on Coronation Day 1953, some of the most evocative images of our time.

After a spell in films, he was asked back into Conde Nast as director and general manager. But the group came under American management, which seemed to exercise the now familiar business technique of streamlining, putting new talent before old knowledge. Matthews took early retirement and bravely started his new career.

Matthews was clever and lucky to be able to fulfil many of his interests. Through Harry Yoxall, head of Conde Nast, he joined the International Wine and Food Society and, in 1995, became vice-chairman and a life member, and was awarded the society's Gold Medal for his service over 12 years on many of the society's international committees.

Fine wines, like photography, are now big business, but it was not always so. Matthews led the field in both these fast- developing fields. From 1979, he was Editor of Christie's Wine Publications, using many of his photographs on Christie's catalogue covers, in their Wine Companion, and in books on Chateau Lafite and Chateau Margaux. He helped Michael Broadbent to revise his Great Vintage Wine Book and he helped many of his friends to appreciate the pleasures of the palate.

Another of his enthusiasms was flowers: he became so knowledgeable that in 1972 he was invited to start the Inchbald School of Garden Design. Knowledge of butterflies came with the flowers. Two months ago he was sitting in our garden telling me the unwelcome news of his cancer. He said wisely that the challenge at his age was more what he could make of the disease, than what it could make of him. Suddenly, he broke off and pointed out a rare butterfly to me, saying with a winning smile, "Now, that's what really matters." He edited an anthology, The Pursuit of Moths and Butterflies, containing extracts from Virginia Woolf, Colette, and others.

Despite the variety of his careers, Matthews was no butterfly himself. A Territorial, he rose from Second Lieutenant in 1938 to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1946, and was twice mentioned in despatches, with commands in the field in Normandy and in Belgium. In five years from 1959, he helped the Film Producers' Guild to win 25 awards for documentary advertising films. He led four of their company delegations to the documentary film festivals at Cannes and Venice. For five years he was with Rank Screen Services. His studies at Rossall School and St Martin's School of Art, with four years at Wolsey Knitware as trainee and fashion designer, had helped him to be practical as well as creative.

Matthews had a particular blend of kindness, openness, humour and cheerfulness. Once, in his office, he gave some rather harsh advice to an employee, who said afterwards, "It wasn't too bad: I realised he had Matthewsed me." Patrick Matthews could get almost everyone on his side.

Derick Patrick Lloyd Matthews, writer, editor, photographer: born Salisbury 7 July 1914; married 1951 Mollie Berry (one daughter); died Brighton 25 September 1996.