January 10, 2019


The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs by Fiona Robinson is a picture book biography about 19th century botanist and photographer Anna Atkins.

Born in 1779, Anna was primarily raised by her father. He strongly encouraged Anna to pursue her scientific curiosities, and Anna quickly became fascinated with nature, especially plants. She grew up to be a botanist, and when cyanotype photography was invented, she used it to catalogue her specimens. In 1843, Anna published the book with the title Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, making it the first book of photographs ever published!

The Bluest of Blues is created in mostly blues to mimic the cyanotype medium, but Robinson mixes in pops of orange every once in a while that keep the book feeling bright and curious. There's a wonderful note in the back matter about how Robinson created the book –– pencil drawings, watercolors, fabrics, wallpapers, wood veneers, photographs, the list goes on! –– and she even mixed in Anna's original photographs. The book itself has an interesting trim size, 9x12, which screams that this is a book meant to stand out and stand tall.

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