Anna Atkins

1799 - 1871


The Author


Anna Atkins (née Children) was born in Tonbridge, Kent, England in 1799. Her mother died one year later, in 1800. Her father, John George Children, a respected scientist, gave her an unusually scientific education. In 1825, she married John Pelly Atkins, a London West India merchant. He and Anna's father were friends of William Henry Fox Talbot and John Herschel, who invented the cyanotype photographic process. Anna's main interest lay in the study of botany and she collected and dried plants. In 1839 she was elected a member of the London Botanical Society. In 1843 she used Herschel's technique to create photograms of algae and ferns, which she published, with a limited number of copies, for her friends. Her "Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions" is considered the first book with photographic images. In 1854 Anna, together with her friend Anne Dixon, produced a new edition of blueprints entitled "Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns". But Anna and her photograms were nearly forgotten during the 19th century. Between 1852 and 1863 she published in addition four novels and a biography of her father, John George Children. Anna died June 9, 1871, Halstead Place, Kent, at the age of 72.


Anna Atkins, 1861



The Work


British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843)

British Algae in parts (1843 - 1853)

The Perils of Fashion (novel, 1852)    vol. I    vol. II    vol. III

Memoir of J. G. Children (biography, 1853)    >>>

The Colonel (novel, 1853)    vol. I    vol. II    vol. III

Album of cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns (1853)

Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (1854)

Murder Will Out (novel, 1859)    >>>

A Page from the Peerage (novel, 1863)





Anna Atkins (Wikipedia)

Photographs of British Algae. Cyanotype Impressions (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

Photographs of British Algae. Cyanotype Impressions(The New York Public Library)

Album of cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns (The National Media Museum, Bradford)

John Frederick William Herschel: On the Chemical Action of the Rays of the Solar Spectrum