John Aikin, published in 1823
15 January 1747|
Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, England
|Died||7 December 1822
Stoke Newington, Middlesex, England
John Aikin (15 January 1747 – 7 December 1822) was an English doctor and writer.
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, earned an M.D. (1780), and in 1784 established himself as a doctor in Great Yarmouth.
In 1792, one of his pamphlets having given offence, he moved to London, where he practised as a consulting physician. 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.
In 1798 Aikin retired from medicine and devoted himself with great industry to various literary undertakings, among which his General Biography (10 vols., 1799–1815) holds a conspicuous place. His other works included Biographical Memoirs of Medicine in Great Britain (1780) and The Lives of John Selden, Esq., and Archbishop Usher (1812). Aside from editing The Monthly Magazine from 1796 to 1807 and Dodsley's Annual Register from 1811-1815, he conducted a paper called The Athenaeum from 1807 to 1809, when it was discontinued.
Aikin had four children, three sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Arthur was a prominent scientist, and the youngest, Edmund was an architect. His second son, Charles, was adopted by his sister, who had no children of her own. Through Charles, Aikin was grandfather to the writer Anna Letitia Le Breton. His daughter Lucy was a biographer.
- Evenings at Home (1792–95)
- Letters from a father to his son, on various topics, relative to literature and the conduct of life (1794)
- A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles Round Manchester (1795) referenced in The German Ideology by Karl Marx
- General Biography (ten volumes, completed in 1815)
- Annals of the Reign of George III (1816)
- Select Works of the British Poets (1820)
- Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Aikin, John". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Aikin, Lucy (2010). "Lucy Aikin: A Brief Chronology". In Mellor, Anne K.; Levy, Michelle. Epistles On Women and Other Works. Broadview Editions. ISBN 9781770481244.
- "Aikin, Edmund". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about John Aikin.|
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aikin, John". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource
- Works by or about John Aikin at Internet Archive
- Works by John Aikin at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)