Wolverhampton BTW

Lucy Sarah Atkins

Atkins, Lucy Sarah, later Wilson, 1801—1863

by Benjamin Colbert

Lucy Sarah Atkins Wilson was born into a Quaker family of Newcastle, the daughter of Samuel Atkins (d. 1821) and Esther Atkins, née Millard (1776-1833). She evinced an early talent in redacting works of travel, history, and science into collections for children, which, as Judith Page and Elise L. Smith suggest, exhibit a ‘condescension towards the poor’ (281).

Her first books of this kind, The India Cabinet Opened: in Which Many Natural Curiosities Are Rendered a Source of Amusements to Young Minds and Fruits of Enterprize Exhibited in the Travels of Belzoni, appeared in 1821 and were followed by Botanical Rambles (1824), Relics of Antiquity (1825?), Real Stories […] from the Narratives of Various Travellers (1827), and Early Recollections (1828).

In 1829, Lucy Atkins demonstrated her facility with German and French translation, publishing Memoirs of John Frederic Oberlin, Pastor of Waldbach, with acknowledged assistance from numerous literary friends, including the Reverend Francis Cunningham, to whom she dedicated the volume. On 16 December of that year, Atkins married Daniel Wilson (1805-86), then curate of Worton, Oxfordshire, but who would later make his name as the evangelical vicar of Islington.

In the ensuing years, Lucy Wilson raised nine children, while attending to her parochial duties, distilling her experiences in an anonymous publication, Hints to a Clergyman’s Wife (1832). She continued to publish devotional and instructional works for children, translated hymns, and composed them too. She died on 25 January 1863. Her brief obituary notice in the The Newcastle Courant marked her passing by remembering her contributions to literature, concluding: ‘Her life was much devoted to works of piety and benevolence, and her loss will be deeply felt’.


‘Marriages’. The Standard, no. 807 (Wed., 16 Dec. 1829). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part II: 1800-1900. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.

The Newcastle Courant, no. 9814 (Fri., 30 Jan. 1863). Gale Databases: British Library Newspapers, Part I: 1800-1900. Web. 10 Oct. 2017

Nock, David A. ‘Wilson, Edward Francis’. Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire biographique du Canada. Vol. 14 (1911-1920). University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003-2017. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.

Page, Judith, and Elise L. Smith. Women, Literature, and the Domesticated Landscape: England's Disciples of Flora, 1780-1870. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print.

‘The Reverend Edward Francis Wilson (1844-1916)’. Salt Spring Island Archives. Web. 10 Oct. 2017.


Title Published
Fruits of Enterprize Exhibited in the Travels of Belzoni in Egypt and Nubia 1821
Relics of Antiquity, Exhibited in the Ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1825
Real Stories: Taken from the Narratives of Various Travellers 1827

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