Untold tale of photographer Vivian Maier told in all-access biography by Ann Marks

Vivian Maier Photo
(Image credit: Vivian Maier)

The late, great Vivian Maier is well known for her striking street photography documenting New York and Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s, but her life beyond that remained a mystery. In a new book by Ann Marks, we discover the remarkable story of Vivian Maier, the nanny turned world-class secret photographer, who catapulted to fame after her death in 2009. 

Vivian Maier Developed is the result of years of meticulous research studying Maier’s personal records and more than 140,000 photos, many of which had never been seen. For the first time, Ann Marks reveals Vivian’s fascinating story of a woman who fled from a family with a hidden history of illegitimacy, bigamy, parental abuse, violence and mental illness to start a life of her own in New York. 

• Read more: Vivian Maier's work to be exhibited for the first time at MK Gallery in the UK

The book uncovers how and why Vivian expressed herself through photography, what obstacles she had to overcome, why she was so intensely private and how she fought for the rights of workers, women, African Americans and Native Americans.

Although she would never know it, Maier’s work documenting everyday life in Chicago and New York would become one of the greatest photographic discoveries of the 20th century. Overnight she joined the likes of Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman and Sally Mann as a photographic icon and to this day remains a huge inspiration to street photographers.

(Image credit: Simon & Schuster)

Maier captured everything from businessmen smoking in the streets, to glamorous ladies in their finery, to toddlers crying, to burnt-out furniture and cityscapes by night. She was also an exceptional self-portrait photographer, often using reflections in mirrors or shop windows and shadows in her work as a means of expressing her wit, humor and affinity for anonymity. 

Described by The New York Times as “a fascinating overview of an artist working for art's sake” and “unstinting reportage that reads like a mystery” by the Chicago Review of Books, this previously untold tale promises to be a captivating read.

Ann Marks is the only person in the world who has ever been granted access to all of Maier’s photos, home movies and audio recordings and for the first time, this biography will place the photographer's work in the context of her life and experiences. Using clues found in photographs, interviews with those who knew her and careful attention to detail, Ann Marks tells the story of a highly-complex, intelligent and creative woman. 

With over 500 unseen photos as well as a gripping tale of hardship, triumph and relationships, it’s a must-read for any fans of Maier. Hardback copies are available either directly from Simon & Schuster which published the book, Amazon (although currently out of stock) and  B&H Photo Video – or you can download the Kindle version. 

Read more:

Best film cameras
• Best 35mm, roll film and sheet film
Best instant film cameras

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.