Edward Mitchell was born in Gosport in 1849, the youngest of 3 sons. His father, William, gave his occupation for the 1851 census as 'Artist in its various Branches', and one of his brothers, Henry, was listed as 'artist's pupil'. The other brother, Alfred, worked as a barman. By 1861 Alfred was listed as a photographer, and Edward followed his older brother into the same profession. The 1881 census listed Edward Mitchell's occupation as 'Travelling Photographer'. In 1881 Mitchell lived in lodgings in West St, Landport, not far from his place of birth in Gosport, 1849. From the late 1880s Edward Mitchell produced carte de visite portraits in Southampton. The 1891 census recorded Photographer Edward Mitchell as a single man, living with a young housekeeper at 67 North Front. Edward Mitchell died in Southampton in 1896, aged 48.
Unusually, the name of the subject, Mr Joy, was pencilled on the back of this carte de viste. A Mr Thankful Joy was listed as a yeoman and market gardener in Southampton until the mid 1870s at Cockwoods or Cockroads Farm, Hill Lane. In 1871 his son Mr Thankful Joy junior was recorded as the landlord of the Belle Moor Inn, Hill Lane. In 1876 Mr Joy junior was the landlord of the Cowherds Inn, The Avenue. The portrait was taken at some time between the late 1880s and 1896, and could be either of the Mr Thankful Joys, although the sitter's clothing does suggest he could have been a market gardener.
In 2014 Mr Thankful Joy junior was commemorated in new paving outside Southampton Station, as the landlord of the Railways Tavern, Blechynden Terrace from 1884 to 1890.