Biography of Anna Atkins

The first published woman photographer

Fox Talbot's Camera
Fox Talbot's Camera. Spencer Arnold/Getty Images

Anna Atkins (March 16, 1799-June 9, 1871) published the first book with photographs. She is also sometimes cited as the first woman to take a photograph, an achievement for which Constance Talbot has also been credited. Also known as Anna Children, Atkins was a botanist and photographer.

Personal Life

Atkins was the daughter of Hester Anne Children and John George Children, the scientist for whom the Children's Python of Australia is named.

Atkins was educated in science by her father. In 1825, she married John Pelly Atkins, and took up an interest in plant collecting and botany. In 1839, she became a member of the Botanical Society in London.

Photography Career

Atkins' father and husband were both friends of William Fox Talbot, who was inventing methods of taking photographs, including one known as the blue print process. Anna Atkins took her first picture about 1841; whether she or Talbot's wife Constance took the first photograph by a woman is debated.

Anna Atkins used her knowledge and skill in photography to publish a book on algae in Britain, using photographs to illustrate it. She later published two more volumes of photographs of algae.

Anna Atkins went on to publish several other books illustrated with photographs, working with Anne Dixon, a friend and cousin of Jane Austen. She also published some other books including a memoir of her father and several books on fashion.

The British Museum featured her plant collection in 1865. She died in 1871.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Biography of Anna Atkins." ThoughtCo, Mar. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/anna-atkins-about-3529939. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, March 3). Biography of Anna Atkins. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/anna-atkins-about-3529939 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Biography of Anna Atkins." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/anna-atkins-about-3529939 (accessed November 21, 2017).