Anna Blackburne was born at Orford Hall, Orford, Warrington, Lancashire, the daughter of Jane (born Ashton) and John Blackburne. Her father was a wealthy Cheshire salt dealer, who studied natural history and had famous greenhouses admired by Thomas Pennant (1726–1798).
Her additions to the insect collections were especially notable, thanks to specimens sent to her by Peter Simon Pallas (1741–1811). Her brother Ashton, who had gone to live in the United States of America, also sent her many specimens, especially of birds, that were eventually described by Pennant. She sent Linné specimens of birds and insects that were not described in his Systema Naturae.
She died in Warrington.
Johan Christian Fabricius (1745–1808), a pupil of Linnaeus, dedicated the beetle Geotrupes blackburnii to her in 1781. Dendroica fusca, the Blackburnian Warbler – described by Philipp Ludwig Statius Müller (1725–1776) – is also named in her honour.
- Haines 2001, p. 35.
Catharine M. C. Haines (2001). International women in science: a biographical dictionary to 1950. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576070901.
- Bettany, George Thomas (1886). "Blackburne, Anna". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 121.
- Wystrach, V. P. "Anna Blackburne (1726–1793) — a neglected patroness of natural history". JSBNH 8 (2): 148–168 (May 1977).
- "Ashton Blackburn and American Onithology". Ornithological Research Archive. University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Retrieved March 30, 2012.