Born in 1799, Anna Atkins was the daughter of John George Children, a scientist and fellow of the Royal Society. He was very supportive of her scientific interests at a time when women were not welcomed into that sphere.
Atkins was a keen artist, in drawing, watercolour and lithography, as well as an enthusiastic botanist. She recognised that cyanoypes (a family friend's new invention) offered an opportunity to approach botanical illustration in different way.
In 1843, Atkins started work producing the cyanotypes that would make up Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions.
Atkins produced the work over a period of 10 years between 1843 and 1853. She distributed it in parts to a number of recipients who then bound the work themselves.
With Photographs of British Algae, Anna Atkins produced the first ever photographically illustrated book and is considered by some to be the first ever female photographer.