Tag Archives: Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Education – Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson



Footsteps - image created by Maggie Baldry

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson   9 June 1836 – 17 December 1917

Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, LSA, MD, was an English physician and feminist, the first woman to gain a medical qualification in Britain. Elizabeth was the daughter of Newson Garrett, of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where she was born in 1836. Elizabeth was educated at home and at a private school. In 1860 she resolved to study medicine, an almost unheard-of thing for a woman at that time, and regarded by some as almost indecent.

Having obtained some more or less irregular instruction at the Middlesex Hospital, London, she was refused admission as a full student both there and at many other medical schools to which she applied. Finally she studied anatomy privately at the London Hospital, and with some of the professors at the University of St Andrews, and at the Edinburgh Extra-Mural school.

She had no less difficulty in gaining a qualifying diploma to practise medicine. London University, the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, and many other examining bodies refused to admit her to their examinations; but in the end the Society of Apothecaries allowed her to enter for the Licence of Apothecaries’ Hall, which she obtained in 1865. This entitled her to have her name entered on the medical register, the second woman after Elizabeth Blackwell, and the first woman qualified in Britain to do so. Elizabeth Blackwell, originally born in Bristol, England, was the first female doctor in the United States and was also a women’s rights activist.

In 1866, Elizabeth Garrett was appointed general medical attendant to St Mary’s Dispensary, a London institution started to enable poor women

Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

to obtain medical help from qualified practitioners of their own sex. The dispensary soon developed into the New Hospital for Women, and there Dr Garrett worked for over twenty years. In 1870 she obtained the University of Paris degree of MD, three months after Frances Hoggan obtained that qualification. The same year she was elected to the first London School Board, at the head of the poll for Marylebone, and was also made one of the visiting physicians of the East London Hospital for Children; but the duties of these two positions she found to be incompatible with her principal work, and she soon resigned them.

In 1871 she married James George Skelton Anderson of the Orient Steamship Company, but she did not give up her practice. She had three children, Louisa, Margaret who died of meningitis, and Alan. Louisa also became a pioneering doctor of medicine and a social campaigner.

In 1873 she gained membership of the British Medical Association and remained the only woman member for 19 years, due to the Association’s vote against the admission of further women.

From 1874, Elizabeth worked steadily at the development of the New Hospital, and at the creation of the London School of Medicine for Women. Both institutions have since been handsomely and suitably housed and equipped, the New hospital in the Euston Road being worked entirely by medical women, and the schools in Hunter Street, WC1 having over 200 students, most of them preparing for the medical degree of London University (the present-day University College London), which was opened to women in 1877. In 1897 Dr Garrett Anderson was elected president of the East Anglian branch of the British Medical Association.

On 9 November 1908 she was elected mayor of Aldeburgh, the first female mayor in England.

The movement for the admission of women to the medical profession, of which Dr Anderson was the indefatigable pioneer in England, extended in her lifetime to all of North America and Europe. She died in 1917 and is buried in Aldeburgh.

The next series of historical stories will cover ladies who were pioneers in the Entertainment industry.


Legal Bit
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the authors.  Although great care has been taken to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information contained in this work neither the author, contributors, employees or advisers are able to accept any legal liability for any consequential loss or damage, however caused, arising as a result of any actions taken on the basis of the information contained in this work. All third-party brands and trademarks belong to their respective owners.  Copyright : Maggie Baldry

1 Comment

Posted by on June 28, 2011 in History, Soft Footsteps


Tags: , , , , , ,