George Shadbolt was born in London, England on 23 February 1817. The son of a bookseller and publisher, he grew up surrounded by books and literature. Shadbolt developed an interest in science and optics at an early age and became a student of optics in his early twenties.
In 1841 Shadbolt became editor of the Photographic Journal, a position he held for over 20 years. During this time he wrote extensively on photography, including articles on the history of the medium, technical advances and artistic trends.
Shadbolt was also an accomplished photographer in his own right, exhibiting his work in several international exhibitions. He was particularly interested in the use of photography for scientific purposes and conducted experiments to study the effects of light and colour on photographic images.
In addition to his work in photography, Shadbolt was also a prolific writer on a wide range of subjects, including travel, history and literature. He wrote several books on these subjects, including The History of the British Empire in India and The Life and Times of William Shakespeare.
Shadbolt died on 4 January 1901 at the age of 83. His contributions to the field of photography and his extensive writings on a wide range of subjects have secured his place as an important figure in British intellectual history.