Sept. 28, 1865: England Gets Its First Woman Physician, the Hard Way

Portrait of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

1865: Elizabeth Garrett becomes the first woman in England to receive a medical license.

It didn’t come easily.

Bound by the restrictions on sex and class that prevailed in Victorian England, Garrett, the daughter of a London pawnbroker, was inspired to medicine after meeting Elizabeth Blackwell, who had become the first practicing woman physician in the United States. First, though, Garrett had to overcome the opposition of her parents. Compared to what lay ahead, that was easy.

At first she tried applying to medical school. Several — actually all — turned her down. With the conventional path blocked, Garrett enrolled as a nursing student at Middlesex Hospital. While there, she sat in on some medical classes but was booted after the male students complained.

The above article is from Wired but there is more information from Wikipedia and from BBC History. Both my primary physician and OB/GYN are women and I’m so grateful for that.

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