6 November 1781|
|Died||29 January 1864
Lucy Aikin (6 November 1781 – 29 January 1864) was an English historical writer. She also published under the pseudonym Mary Godolphin.
Family and education
Lucy Aikin was born at Warrington, England, into a distinguished literary family of prominent Unitarians. They were also a family of writers, the most well known of whom was her paternal aunt, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, a woman of letters who wrote poetry and essays as well as early children's literature. Lucy's father, Dr. John Aikin, was a medical doctor, historian, and author. Her grandfather, also called John Aikin (1713–1780), was a Unitarian scholar and theological tutor, closely associated with Warrington Academy. Lucy's brother was Arthur Aikin (1773–1854), chemist, mineralogist and scientific writer; their brother Charles Rochemont (1775–1847) was adopted by their famous aunt and brought up as their cousin; he became a doctor and chemist.
Lucy was educated by her father and her aunt, an early critic of the education system. She "read widely in English, French, Italian, and Latin literature and history", and began writing for magazines at the age of seventeen, and at an early age assisted her father as an editor in his writings as well.
Aikin was interested in early education, and as such published several works to assist young readers: Poetry for Children: Consisting of Short Pieces to be Committed to Memory (1801), Juvenile Correspondence or Letters, Designed as Examples of the Epistolary Style, for Children of Both Sexes (1811), An English Lesson Book, for the Junior Classes (1828), and The Acts of Life: of Providing Food, of Providing Clothing, of Providing Shelter (1858).
Aikin also was responsible for translating the French texts: Louis Francois Jauffret’s The Travels of Rolando (publication appears to be around 1804), and Jean Gaspard Hess’s The Life of Ulrich Zwingli (1812), a life of the leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. She also was responsible for two creative works: Epistles on Women, Exemplifying their Character and Condition in Various Ages and Nations, with Miscellaneous Poems (1810), and her only work of fiction, Lorimer, a Tale (1814). She also was well-remembered for her biographical works: Memoir of John Aikin, MD (1823), The Works of Anna Laetita Barbauld (1825), The Life of Anne Boleyn (1827), and The Life of Joseph Addison (1843).
However, as memoirs and obituaries are quick to point out, she was probably most famous for her historical works: Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth (1818), Memoirs of the Court of James I (1822), and Memoirs of the Court of Charles I (1833).
Under the pseudonym Mary Godolphin, Lucy Aikin is also attributed for producing versions of Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Aesop's Fables, Evenings at Home (by her father and aunt), and Sandford and Merton, "in Words of One Syllable".
She was remarkable for her conversational powers, and was also an admirable letter-writer. She died at Hampstead, then just north of London, where she had lived for forty years.
Her niece Anna Letitia Le Breton carried on her literary legacy after her death. Aikin's Memoirs, Miscellanies, and Letters were published in 1864, and an edited version of her correspondence with Dr William Ellery Channing, the American Unitarian theologian, followed ten years later.
Chronological list of publications
- 1801: Poetry for Children: Consisting of Short Pieces to be Committed to Memory
- 1804: Louis Francois Jauffret’s The Travels of Rolando (translation from French)
- 1810: Epistles on Women, Exemplifying their Character and Condition in Various Ages and Nations, with Miscellaneous Poems
- 1811: Juvenile Correspondence or Letters, Designed as Examples of the Epistolary Style, for Children of Both Sexes
- 1812: Jean Gaspard Hess’s The Life of Ulrich Zwingli (translation from French)
- 1814: Lorimer, a Tale
- 1818: Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth, published in several later editions
- 1822: Memoirs of the Court of James I
- 1823: Memoir of John Aikin, MD
- 1825: The Works of Anna Laetita Barbauld
- 1827: The Life of Anne Boleyn
- 1828: An English Lesson Book, for the Junior Classes
- 1833: Memoirs of the Court of Charles I
- 1843: The Life of Joseph Addison
- 1858: The Acts of Life: of Providing Food, of Providing Clothing, of Providing Shelter
- 1858: Holiday Stories for Young Readers
Works attributed to her as Mary Godolphin
- 1867: Robinson Crusoe: In Words of One Syllable
- 1868: Sandford and Merton: In Words of One Syllable
- 1868: An Evening at Home: In Words of One Syllable
- 1869: Aesop's Fables: In Words of One Syllable
- 1869: The Pilgrim's Progress: In Words of One Syllable
- 1869: The Swiss Family Robinson: In Words of One Syllable
- 1870: The One Syllable Sunday Book
- See Barbara Brandon Schnorrenberg's entry "Aikin, Lucy (1781–1864)" in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Schnorrenberg (again)
- See: A First Sketch of English Literature, page 941
- See a Memoir of John Aikin, with selections of his miscellaneous pieces (1823); and the Memoirs, Miscellanies and Letters of Lucy Aikin (1864), including her correspondence (1826–1842) with William Ellery Channing, edited by P. H. Le Breton.
- Turzynski, Linda J. "Lucy Aikin." Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Children's Writers, 1800–1880. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Inc, 1996.
- 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
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