Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Born on 9th of June 1836
Died on 17th of December 1917
The first British woman doctor, and a pioneer of women’s rights, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson paved the way for women in the medical profession.
Elizabeth Garrett was born in Whitechapel, London on June 9 1836. Her father’s success in business enabled him to send his children to good schools, and allowed Elizabeth to conceive of new possibilities. Her friendship with Emily Davis (the co-founder of Girton College, Oxford) and Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman physician, inspired her to become a doctor. Realizing this goal, however, was to prove extremely difficult.
Denied admission to medical school she enrolled as a nursing student at Middlesex Hospital. Here she attended classes for male doctors before being barred after complaints from them. In spite of this in 1865 she took her exams and gained her doctor’s certificate. She next set up a dispensary for sick women in London and in 1870 was made visiting physician to the East London Hospital. It was here that she met her husband James Anderson, and they were married in 1871.
Determined to obtain a medical degree she learnt French and gained her qualification from the University Paris. Her degree though was not accepted by the British Medical Register. Undeterred she founded the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874. Her tenacity paid off when in 1876 an act was passed permitting women to enter the medical profession.
Anderson retired in 1902 becoming mayor of Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast in 1908, the first female mayor in England. With her daughter Louisa she became a member of the suffragette movement. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson died on December 17, 1917.
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