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In this issue, we celebrate International Women’s Day. International Women's Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. While researching your one-
1836 – Elizabeth is born in Whitechapel
1841 – Elizabeth is living with her family in the High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk
1849 – Elizabeth goes to boarding school in Blackheath, London
1859 – Elizabeth meets America’s first female doctor, Elizabeth Blackwell, which inspires her to train privately as a nurse
1865 – Elizabeth is accepted by the Society of Apothecaries, who afterwards changed its rules to stop other women becoming members!
1865 – Elizabeth starts her medical practice in London
1865 – Elizabeth sets up St Mary's Dispensary for Women and Children in Marylebone
1870 – Elizabeth obtains her medical degree in Paris
1871 – Elizabeth marries James Anderson
1872 – Elizabeth establishes the New Hospital for Women in London
1873 – Elizabeth becomes a member of the British Medical Association, making her the first British women doctor
1876 – Act of Parliament is passed permitting women to enter all of the medical professions
1883 – Elizabeth is appointed Dean of London School of Medicine for Women
1902 – Elizabeth retires and moved back to Aldeburgh, Suffolk
1908 – Elizabeth is elected mayor of Aldeburgh, making her the first woman mayor in England
1908 – Elizabeth is nearly arrested for protesting as a Suffragette
1912 – Elizabeth’s daughter, Louisa, is sent to prison for protesting
1917 – Elizabeth dies and is buried in Aldeburgh
The following ‘early day motion’ was tabled in the House of Commons on 1 September 2014:
DR ELIZABETH GARRETT ANDERSON AND WOMEN IN SCIENCE
That this House commends the contribution to medical science by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who was born in London in 1836; notes that in 1865, Dr Anderson was the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor after passing the Society of Apothecaries' examinations; praises Dr Anderson's work in 1866 to establish a dispensary for women in London; further notes that in 1870 Dr Anderson was made a visiting physician to the East London Hospital and in 1872 she founded the New Hospital for Women in London, which was staffed entirely by women; further notes that Dr Anderson helped found the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874 and was appointed dean in 1883; further notes that because of Dr Anderson's pioneering work an Act was passed in 1876 that permitted women to enter medical professions; further notes that during her retirement in Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Dr Anderson became the first female mayor in England in 1908; and calls on the Government to ensure that young women are encouraged to pursue careers in science.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was one of those select few Victorians who, by their campaigning and example, utterly transformed the lives of British women.
No one could have predicted this from the bare facts of her early background, for she was born in Whitechapel (a poor area of East London) in 1836, the second in a large family of children born to a pawnbroker. Yet her father Newson was no ordinary pawnbroker. The son of a noted family of Suffolk agricultural engineers, he was simply running the business for his father-
It was in London, in the later '50s, that Elizabeth met Emily Davies, the early feminist and future co-
By now, she had become a very active promoter of women's rights. In 1865, she and her younger sister Millicent (later Fawcett), together with Emily, Barbara and several other like-
Elizabeth had garnered a great deal of support for her dispensary, and in 1870 went on to win a landslide victory for a seat on the East London School Board. Women had never been eligible to take part in such an election before, so she was first one in the country to hold this kind of position. Browning himself had been amongst her most energetic campaigners.
The chairman of her campaign was James Anderson of the Orient Steamship Company -
After retirement, the Andersons went to live in Aldeburgh, where in 1908 she succeeded her husband as mayor, thus adding another "first" to her list: she was the first ever woman mayor in England. She also continued to support the Suffragist cause, leading a delegation to see Prime Minister Herbert Asquith even in her old age. But she soon left the Women's Social and Political Union, disapproving of their militant tactics.
This was very much in character: "She was capable, persistent and politically shrewd. She found a way round obstacles instead of charging at them," writes her biographer Jo Manton. Manton also says that Elizabeth "lacked the flamboyance, the oratory, perhaps even the high-
At any rate, whether by sheer grit, or by a mixture of grit and diplomacy, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson did manage to pursue a high-
*Like so many Victorian women, Elizabeth suffered the death of one of her children. One of her two daughters died of meningitis in infancy. Of the surviving son and daughter, it was the daughter Louisa who followed in her mother's footsteps, becoming a doctor herself, and publishing a biography of her mother in 1939. Some fascinating excerpts from this are online at "Spartacus.schoolnet." Viewed 26 January 2007.
Clark, Christine. "Garrett, Newson (1812-
Elston, MA. "Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-
This was my main source of factual information, though there are some discrepancies between this and other sources. For example, did Newsom and Louisa Garrett have nine children (as stated by Elston), or "ten surviving" (as stated by Clark), or twelve (as stated on the "Spartacus" site, see note above)? Elizabeth's husband, too, is variously described as a businessman, merchant and even shipwright.... I have avoided being specific in such cases.
Graver, Suzanne. "Anderson, Elizabeth Garret (1836-
Harte, Negley. The University of London, 1836-
Manton, J. "Elizabeth Garrett Anderson." Who's Who in Victorian Britain. Ed. Roger Ellis. London: Shepheard-
Right: The procession in 1908 when Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was elected as Mayor of Aldeburgh, becoming the first woman mayor in England