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Atkins, Anna

Atkins, Anna, 1799–1871, English photographer and botanist who specialized in images of botanical specimens. The daughter of scientist John George Children, she married John Pelly Atkins in 1825. She learned the photographic process from its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot, and the cyanotype, or blueprint, process from its inventor, Sir John Herschel, both family friends. For her botanical illustrations she employed the cyanotype process: A sheet of glass pressed a specimen against paper impregnated with iron salts; this was exposed to sunlight, and the paper then washed with water to create a stark white image of the specimen on a Prussian blue ground. Her best-known work, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843), is the first book ever illustrated with photographs. She also published Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns (1853) and Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (1854) as well as other books without photographs.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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