Thompson is recorded as having donated these collections of Frith’s photographs of the Middle East to the Melbourne Public Library during its opening decades, apparently in response to specific requests from Melbourne’s Trustees.
Later known as a specialist palaeographer, he evidently showed considerable youthful acumen in these selections from Frith’s famous photographs, only recently published when the first set, of Syria and Palestine, was forwarded to Melbourne.
His obituary notes that he entered the British Museum’s Department of Manuscripts in 1861, aged only about 21, after previously working in the office of then Principal Librarian Sir Edward Bond. Later, Thompson became Keeper of Manuscripts at the museum (1878), and then succeeded Bond as Principal Librarian in 1888 (re-designated Director and Principal Librarian in 1898).
For Thompson, see Jakubowicz, “True Portraiture” (2018) [see Bibliography for details]; and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Maunde_Thompson, citing the obituary in the British Museum Quarterly 4.3 (Dec.1929), pp.94-96