Cover image for The bluest of blues : Anna Atkins and the first book of photographs / Fiona Robinson.
The bluest of blues : Anna Atkins and the first book of photographs / Fiona Robinson.
Publication Information:
New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019.
Physical Description:
1 volume : illustrations (colour) ; 31 cm
Recounts the story of botanist and photographer Anna Atkins, who recorded the natural world in detailed illustrations, engravings, and cyanotypes, and became the first person to publish a book of photography.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
580.92 ATK ROB Book Junior Collection

On Order



A gorgeous picture book biography of botanist and photographer Anna Atkins--the first person to ever publish a book of photography

After losing her mother very early in life, Anna Atkins (1799-1871) was raised by her loving father. He gave her a scientific education, which was highly unusual for women and girls in the early 19th century. Fascinated with the plant life around her, Anna became a botanist. She recorded all her findings in detailed illustrations and engravings, until the invention of cyanotype photography in 1842. Anna used this new technology in order to catalogue plant specimens--a true marriage of science and art. In 1843, Anna published the book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions with handwritten text and cyanotype photographs. It is considered the first book of photographs ever published. Weaving together histories of women, science, and art, The Bluest of Blues will inspire young readers to embark on their own journeys of discovery and creativity.

Author Notes

Fiona Robinson is the author/illustrator of Ada's Ideas, Whale Shines, What Animals Really Like, The Useful Moose, and The 3-2-3 Detective Agency . Her work has been honored by the Royal Academy of Arts and has been featured in many gallery shows. She lives with her family in Brooklyn.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

British botanist Anna Atkins used cyanotypes-photographic paper that turns blue in the sun-to publish the world's first book of photographs in 1843, a compendium of her extensive dried seaweed collection. Appropriately, the layered artwork in this picture book biography by Robinson (Ada's Ideas) is worked almost entirely in shades of blue, with the occasional red or yellow accent (a poppy, a ladybug, the sun's rays). Robinson's doll-like, romantic figures-Atkins has large eyes and round, rougelike spots on her cheeks-could skew sentimental, but the biography is detailed and informative. Atkins was lovingly reared and educated by her widowed father, and the two share a rich, loving partnership of teaching, plant collecting, and mutual encouragement as Anna grows into adulthood. A scientist friend introduces the pair to cyanotypes, and Anna sees that the medium will allow her to share her collection widely. "To my dearest father," reads her dedication (and Robinson's as well), "this attempt is affectionately inscribed." A valuable biography of an early female scientist-and a rare portrait of a father-daughter collaboration. Ages 6-9. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Feb.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.