Cover art for podcast Jo's Art History Podcast

Jo's Art History Podcast

35 EpisodesProduced by Jo McLaughlinWebsite

Join art historian Jo McLaughlin as she delves into the wonderful world of art history in a different way!Jo’s aim is to begin breaking down the elitism which surrounds the subject of art history and believes in order to do so, it’s important to create a space where everyone from all walks of life h… read more


23. Anna Atkins and the Cyanotype with Josie Purcell

Welcome back to the Jo’s Art History Podcast and welcome to my first International Women’s Day Special!

And what a a treat we have in store for you today!

Ever heard of Anna Atkins? Well, you will definitely not forget her after this incredible chat with photographer and photographic artist Josie Purcell!

Anna Atkins is THE FIRST PERSON EVER to create a photo book with her 1843 Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. How did she create this I hear you ask?

Using the Cyanotype printing process!! 

Listen to find out more about this incredible woman who helped make great advancements not only in art but within Science and botany.

Happy International Women’s Day!


Josie Purcell





Jo McLaughlin

Instagram: @josarthistory


What is Cyanotype:


Notes on Anna from Josie:

Anna Atkins is often described as the first person to create a photo book with her 1843 Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.

Her mother died when she was still a young girl and it was her father, a scientist and the first president of the Royal Entomological Society of London, who encouraged, and enabled, her interest in science.

Women were frustratingly denied the option to follow their passions at that time, but fortunately for Anna, she was able to develop her interest in botany, including as a botanical illustrator and then using the Cyanotype process, which was invented by family friend Sir John Herschel.

Through her family’s standing in society, she was able to attend meetings at the Royal Society where photography and science were discussed, something very few women could dream of accessing. Anna joined one of the few scientific societies open to women, The Botanical Society of London, in 1839.

Anna produced two more books with her friend Anne Dixon: Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Ferns (1853) and Cyanotypes of British and Foreign Flowering Plants and Ferns (1854).

View Anna’s Cyanotype Volume 1 here:

Anna Atkins:

History of Photobooks:,was%20created%20by%20Anna%20Atkins.

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