Born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, on July 25, 1825, John Askham had almost no formal education. After labouring as a child in his father's shoe-making shop, Askham earned his living as a shoe-maker. He taught himself to read and write and published his verses in local newspapers and then as volumes, financed by subscriptions. These books included Sonnets on the Months and other Poems (1863), Descriptive Poems, Miscellaneous Pieces and Miscellaneous Sonnets (1866), Judith and other Poems, and a Centenary of Sonnets (1868), Poems and Sonnets (1875), and Sketches in Prose and Verse (1893). In 1871 Northampton elected Askham to the city's first school board, and Askham went on to hold small offices in local government. He and his first wife, Bonham, had three daughters. He married a second time to a woman named Cox. Paralyzed by illness, Askham died October 28, 1894. His grave lies in Wellingborough cemetery.
- Askham, John. Sonnets on the Months: And other Poems, Descriptive, Domestic, and National. Northampton: Taylor and Son, 1863. 11644.ee.61 British Library
- Loughlin-Chow, M. Clare. "Askham, John (1825-1894)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.