Miscellany | Published:


    Naturevolume 100pages309313 (1917) | Download Citation



    THE death of Mrs. Garrett Anderson on December 18, at eightyxMie years of age, deprives the world of a pioneer whose persistent efforts opened to women the portals of institutions having the power to confer qualifications to undertake medical practice. She was the first woman to secure a medical diploma in this country, and she lived to see a steady stream of capable women enter the door which she was chiefly the means of opening. Mrs. Garrett Anderson was born in London in 1836, and in 1860 began her medical studies with the view of obtaining an English qualification as a practitioner. No medical school of the metropolis would receive her as a student, and the Royal College of Surgeons, as well as the Royal College of Physicians, declined to allow her to sit for their examinations. She obtained, however, private tuition in anatomy and surgery, and studied at the London Hospital as a nurse; and after completing her course, was able to establish her claim to be examined by the Society of Apothecaries, which was compelled by its charter to admit to examination all persons, irrespective of sex, who presented themselves after passing through an approved course of study. She thus obtained the desired qualification of licentiate of the society, and began to practise medicine. In 1866 she opened a dispensary near Lisson Grove, Marylebone, and out of this undertaking grew the New Hospital for Women in the Euston Road, of which she remained senior physician until 1890. With Miss Jex-Blake, Mrs. Garrett Anderson endeavoured to induce the University of Edinburgh to grant medical degrees to women, but unsuccessfully. She went to France, however, and obtained the degree of doctor of medicine of the University of Paris in 1870. The refusal of the northern University to admit women to its medical schools led to the establishment of the London School of Medicine for Women, and the alliance of this school with the Royal Free Hospital completed the provision for teaching required by the General Medical Council. From its foundation in 1876 until 1898 Mrs. Garrett Anderson lectured to the students on medicine, and from—1883 to 1903 acted as dean of the school. In 1896-97 she was president of the East Anglian branch of the British Medical Association, and eave an address on “The Progress of Medicine in the Victorian Era.” At Aldeburgh, Suffolk, which was her home for many years, she was elected mayor in 1908, and was the first woman to occupy such a post in England. In August last the honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire was bestowed upon her by the King. Medical women will long cherish the memory of the pioneer to whose courage and stronf character they largely owe the position now occupied by them.

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