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John Aikin

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John Aikin
John Aikin, published in 1823
Born(1747-01-15)15 January 1747
Died7 December 1822(1822-12-07) (aged 75)
Occupation(s)Doctor, writer

John Aikin (15 January 1747 – 7 December 1822) was an English medical doctor and surgeon. Later in life he devoted himself wholly to biography and writing in periodicals.


He was born at Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, England, son of Dr John Aikin, Unitarian divine, and received his elementary education at the Nonconformist academy at Warrington, where his father was a tutor. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and in London under Dr. William Hunter. He practised as a surgeon at Chester and Warrington. Finally, he went to Leiden in Holland, earned an M.D. in 1780, and in 1784 established himself as a doctor in Great Yarmouth.[1]

In 1792, one of his pamphlets having given offence, he moved to London, where he practised as a consulting physician. He lived in Church Street, Stoke Newington. However, he concerned himself more with the advocacy of liberty of conscience than with his professional duties, and he began at an early period to devote himself to literary pursuits, to which his contributions were incessant. When Richard Phillips founded The Monthly Magazine in 1796, Aikin was its first editor. In conjunction with his sister, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, he published a popular series of volumes entitled Evenings at Home (6 vols, 1792–1795), for elementary family reading, which were translated into almost every European language.[1]


Essay on the application of natural history to poetry, 1777

In 1798 Aikin retired altogether from medicine and devoted himself to literary undertakings such as his General Biography (10 vols, 1799–1815). His other work included Biographical Memoirs of Medicine in Great Britain (1780),The Arts of Life... described in a series of letters. For the instruction of young persons (1802, reprinted 1807), and The Lives of John Selden, Esq., and Archbishop Usher (1812).[1][2]

Apart from editing The Monthly Magazine (1796–1807) and Dodsley's Annual Register (1811–1815),[3] Aikin produced a paper called The Athenaeum in 1807–1809, not to be confused with the well-known magazine The Athenaeum (1828–1921).[4]


Aikin had four children, three sons and a daughter.[5] The eldest son, Arthur, was a prominent scientist, and the youngest, Edmund, an architect.[6] The second son, Charles, was adopted by Aikin's sister, who had no children. Through Charles, Aikin was grandfather to the writer Anna Letitia Le Breton. His daughter Lucy was a biographer, who in 1823 published Memoir of John Aikin, M.D., with a selection of Miscellaneous Pieces, Biographical, Moral and Critical.[7]



  1. ^ a b c  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aikin, John". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 437.
  2. ^ [1]. London: Jarndyce, 2020.
  3. ^ wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Aikin, John". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  4. ^ Another earlier work: Essay on the application of natural history to poetry. Warrington: William Eyres. 1777.
  5. ^ Aikin, Lucy (2010). "Lucy Aikin: A Brief Chronology". In Mellor, Anne K.; Michelle Levy (eds.). Epistles on Women and Other Works. Broadview Editions. ISBN 9781770481244.
  6. ^ "Aikin, Edmund". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  7. ^ Google Books. Retrieved 23 November 2020.


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