Lucy Aikin (1781–1864) was bom into a distinguished Unitarian family at Warrington. She was the daughter of John Aikin (1747–1822), a physician and accomplished author, who wrote pamphlets protesting against the Test and Corporation Acts (by which Dissenters were barred from public office), as well as works of topography and natural history. She lived with her parents at Yarmouth, where her father had a medical practice, then at Stoke Newington, where from 1798 onwards her father’s house became a meeting-place for liberal scientists and intellectuals such as Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802) and Joseph Priestley (1733–1804). In 1802, her circle of literary contacts expanded when John Aikin’s sister, the poet and essayist Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743–1825), came to live in Stoke Newington, where her husband became minister of the Dissenting congregation. After her father’s death, Lucy Aikin moved to Hampstead, where she remained for the rest of her life. She was the author of several historical works, the first of which, Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth (1818), Godwin recommended in a letter of 27 April 1818 to his American protégé Joseph Bevan as a useful companion to his studies in Elizabethan literature (PPW, vol. 5, pp. 331–2). He and Lucy Aikin met at least twice, in 1834 and 1835 respectively, when they both attended the intellectual gatherings of his liberal-minded friend Mary Heywood Gaskell (see p. 154). Many years earlier he had dined several times with her father at the house of the publisher Joseph Johnson (see Biographical Glossary), and he was an occasional caller on her aunt, Anna Laetitia Barbauld.