January 15, 1747, Kibworth Harcourt, Leicestershire, England.

December 7, 1822, Stoke Newington, London, England.

St. Mary’s churchyard, Stoke Newington, London, England.


John was the son of John Aikin, a dissenting minister, and brother to hymnist Anna Barbauld. He 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 practiced as a surgeon at Chester and Warrington. Finally, he went to Leiden, Holland, earned an M.D. (1780), and in 1784 established himself as a doctor in Great Yarmouth.

In 1792, one of his pamphlets having given offense, he moved to London, where he practiced as a consulting physician. However, he concerned himself more with the advocacy of liberty of conscience than with medicine, 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, he published a popular series of volumes titled Evenings at Home (six volumes, 1792–95), for elementary family reading, which were translated into almost every European language. He also edited the General Biographical Dictionary.

From 1798 till the time of his death, Aikin lived at Stoke Newington.

  1. While Sounds of War Are Heard Around