John Askham (1825–1894) was an English working class poet who published five volumes of poetry.
Askham was born at Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, on 25 July 1825. His father, John Askham, a native of Raunds in Northamptonshire, was a shoemaker, and his mother a native of Kimbolton. John Askham the younger was the youngest of seven children. Askham attended the Wellingborough Free School for about one year. Askham was twice married; he and his first wife (born Bonham) had three daughters
Before Askham reached age ten, his family put him to work in the shoemaking trade. After working a while for another shoemaker, Askham set up his own business. Askham later became the librarian of the newly formed Literary Institute at Wellingborough. In 1871, Askham was elected a member of the first town school board. In 1874 he became school attendance officer and sanitary inspector of the local board of health.
Despite his heavy workload, Askham educated himself and started writing poetry. He composed his first verses at the age of twenty-five, and later contributed poems to local newspapers. Askham was especially fond of the sonnet. The fidelity of his nature poetry was remarkable when it is considered that, unlike his predecessor, John Clare (1793-1864) [q. v.], Askham had few opportunities at enjoying country life. From 1863 to 1893, Askham published five volumes of poetry. At one point, he received an monetary grant for his poetry from a queen's bounty fund.
In his later years, Askham was disabled by paralysis. He died at Clare Cottage, Wellingborough, on 28 October 1894, and was buried on 1 Nov. in Wellingborough cemetery. He was survived by his second daughter.
Askham published four volumes by subscription, and through one of his subscribers, George Ward Hunt [q. v.], he received a grant of 50l from the queen's bounty fund.
- Sonnets on the Months and other Poems 1863.
- Descriptive Poems, Miscellaneous Pieces and Miscellaneous Sonnets 1866.
- Judith and other Poems, and a Centenary of Sonnets 1868.
- Poems and Sonnets 1875.
- Sketches in Prose and Verse 1893.