William Ian Brinkworth (1914-2000) was born in Karagpur, India to British parents and raised in Scotland, France, Germany and England. His interest in art brought him to the Slade School of Fine Art in London where he was trained as a painter. While studying there, Brinkworth was named a Slade Scholar and awarded the Slade Summer Composition Prize.
The outbreak of World War II changed Brinkworth's career path from painter to soldier. He first served in the Infantry, later joined the Intelligence Corps and then worked with the Free French forces and First Special Air Service Regiment. Brinkworth was taken prisoner in Sardinia for two years and after his release was seconded as a liaison officer between the Foreign Office and the United Nations in 1946. Brinkworth's military service earned him the Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal and an appointment by the British Colonial Administration Service to the position of Assistant District Officer to the Resident of Warri, Nigeria in 1946. He went on to become District Officer and finally Senior District Officer of the region.
Brinkworth's professional responsibilities involved extensive travel throughout Nigeria to many peoples and regions including Warri, Abeakuta, Badagri, Benin, Ogwashiuku, Alaro, Ibaden, Asaba and Ado-Ekiti. While serving as District Officer, Brinkworth was able to incorporate his artistic training and interests with his administrative obligations, chiefly through the mediums of photography and film. Brinkworth's administrative status and extensive interaction with local peoples of Nigeria earned him the privilege of witnessing and filming cultural traditions never before or rarely seen by Westerners.
Brinkworth served as a British Officer in Nigeria until 1957 and continued to minister as an advisor to the independent Nigerian nation during its transition to self-government. He then returned to England and pursued work as a broadcaster, documentary filmmaker, photographer, lecturer and writer. In 1961 he published his first novel, Jimmy Riddle [London; Cassell & Company Ltd., 1961], which won the Putnam Award. He went on to publish the novel's sequel, The Black List [London; Cassell & Company Ltd, 1962], and several other books including his 1966 autobiography The One-Eyed Man Is King [London; Cassell & Company Ltd, 1966]. He often wrote under the pseudonym "Ian Brook." Brinkworth also published several articles in The Geographical Magazine and The West African Review.
After retiring, Brinkworth lived in France with his second wife, Marida, from 1981-1991 before returning once again to England. Much of the photographic, film and art objects from his time in Africa were lost in shipment shortly before his death in 2000. The museum received the remainder of the collection through a donation by Marida Brinkworth in 2008.