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

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

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



John was the son of John Ai­kin, a dis­sent­ing min­is­ter, and broth­er of 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 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. He al­so ed­it­ed the Gen­er­al Bio­graph­ic­al Dic­tion­ary.

From 1798 un­til his death, Ai­kin lived at Stoke New­ing­ton.


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.