Born in Cork in 1880, Frank Browne came from a prominent family in that city. His grandfather, James Hegarty, was Lord Mayor, and his uncle, Robert Browne, was Bishop of Cloyne for 41 years. His schooldays were spent at Christian Brothers' College, Cork, the Bower Convent, Athlone, Belvedere College , Dublin, and Castleknock College, Dublin. When Frank left school in 1897 he set out on a Grand Tour of Europe. The resultant images were the first shots in a salvo of photographic activity that would still be reverberating 100 years later.
On his return from the continent Frank joined the Jesuits. After two years in the novitiate, he attended the Royal University in Dublin where he spent three years in the same class as his fellow Belvederian, James Joyce.
From 1903 to 1906 he studied philosophy in Chieri, near Turin, and then returned to the desks of Belvedere College where he taught for five years. During the first of these (1906), he founded The Belvederian (the college annual) and the Camera Club; both still exist.
From 1911 to 1916, Frank Browne studied Theology at Milltown Park in Dublin. It was during this period that his Uncle Robert (the Bishop of Cloyne) sent him an unusual present: a ticket for the first legs of the maiden voyage of the Titanic, sailing from Southampton to Cherbourg and then on to Queenstown (Cobh), Co Cork, Ireland.
While on board, an American millionaire offered to pay his way for the rest of the voyage to New York. On being apprised of this suggestion, Frank's Jesuit Superior cabled Queenstown saying, succinctly,"GET OFF THAT SHIP---PROVINCIAL".
After the tragedy, Frank Browne's photographs appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world. He had taken the last picture of Captain Smith and the only one ever taken in the Marconi room. His series starts at Waterloo Station with the "Titanic Special" and documents the activities of passengers and crew aboard this unique ship, concluding with the anchor being raised from the water for the last time.