Aikin, Lucy (1781–1864)

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Aikin, Lucy (1781–1864)

English historian and biographer. Name variations: edited under the pseudonym Mary Godolphin. Born at Warrington, Lancashire, England, on November 6, 1781; died at Hampstead, England, on January 29, 1864; daughter of John (a physician and author) and Martha (Jennings) Aikin; niece of Anna Letita Barbauld.

Lucy Aikin received a thorough classical education from her father John Aikin (1747–1822), a physician and author who taught in a nonconformist academy. After assisting her father and her aunt, Anna Letitia Barbauld , in their literary work, Aikin published a poetical volume in 1810, under the title Epistles to Women, modelled after the style of Alexander Pope. A staunch Unitarian and feminist, Aikin protested the view of women's roles in 19th-century England.

Under the name Mary Godolphin, Aikin also edited many children's books. Her most acclaimed works, however, are her memoirs of the courts of Elizabeth I (1818), James I (1822), and Charles I (1833), and her Life of Addison (1843). Regarded as one of the most accomplished literary women of her time, Aikin was also a celebrated socialite. After living in London for five years, she moved to Stoke Newington until her father's death in 1822. Her last 12 years were spent in Hampstead, where she lived with a niece.

suggested reading:

Le Breton, P.H., ed. Memoirs, Miscellanies and Letters of the Late Lucy Aikin.