Today is Anna Atkins birthday. If you don’t know who that is, you came to the right place. Anna Atkins was a botanist and photographer. Some argue that she was the first person to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. Of course, there is no way of knowing this for sure, but the only other women who could be the pioneer was her contemporary and this, in no way, diminishes her achievements in that time and age.
As a part of our Women’s History Month series, we give you a small a biography of Anna Atkins in 5 points.
- Atkins was born to a British chemist, mineralogist and zoologist, John George Children, who encouraged his daughter to pursue science. She later married John Pelly Atkins, and continued to study botany.
- Atkins and her husband were both friends with British inventor and photography pioneer Henry Fox Talbot, and she learned about photography directly from him and is hence, considered to be the first female photographer.
- In October 1843, Atkins self-published her photograms (a photographic image produced without a camera, usually by placing an object on or near a piece of film or light-sensitive paper and exposing it to light) in the first installment of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.
- In 1854, she collaborated with Anne Dixon and worked on creating photograms of ferns, flowers, feathers and lace. With Dixon, she published two more botanical books, Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns and Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns.
- Atkins later issued her work in parts. A few of her distributed books still survive and are kept mostly in libraries. In 1871, she died at Halstead Place of paralysis and rheumatism. Google commemorates her 216th birthday today with a Google doodle, mimicking her photograms.
[Featured Picture Courtesy: Art 21 Magazine]