Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: Know About Her Bio, Wiki,Family And More

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson: Know About Her Bio, Wiki,Family And More

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the first woman to earn a medical degree in Britain. She was also a trailblazing doctor, political activist, and suffragette. Among her many accomplishments, she co-founded the first hospital with a female staff, served as the first dean of a British medical school, was France’s first female doctor of medicine, and was Britain’s first female mayor.

The daughter of Newson Garrett, a former broker who became a successful businessman, Elizabeth was able to endure and overcome a great deal of prejudice and animosity against her goals, demonstrating her unwavering resolve and her disdain for fools. She was noted for possessing a “superior mind,” “great composure of demeanor,” “a great deal of firmness,” and “fairness and coolness in a debate,” nevertheless.

After meeting Elizabeth Blackwell, an Englishwoman who had immigrated to the United States with her parents and earned her medical degree from the University of Geneva after numerous unsuccessful attempts to get accepted into American medical schools, she was motivated to pursue a career in medicine. But in nineteenth-century Britain, there were no female doctors, therefore she was turned down for admission to a number of medical schools. Elizabeth persevered in her pursuit of her dream despite these setbacks, enrolling as a nursing student at Middlesex Hospital and attending classes meant for male students, studying Latin, Greek, and materia medica on her own time, receiving a certificate in anatomy and physiology from the Society of Apothecaries, opening her own practice and dispensary for women in London, and more.


Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Education Of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth joined the first London School Board shortly after receiving her degree from the University of Sorbonne and was appointed one of the visiting doctors at the East London Hospital for Children. She wed James Skelton Anderson in 1871, who was a financial advisor to the East London Hospital and a co-owner of the Orient Steamship Company. She joined the British Medical Association (BMA) two years later, and the next year, she and Sophia Jex-Blake co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women. She lectured at the hospital, which at the time was the only teaching facility in Britain to offer courses for women, and in 1883 she was named dean of the school. She became the first female mayor in England when she was elected mayor of Aldeburgh in November 1908.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson opened the path for future women by becoming the first woman in Britain to earn a medical degree, creating a standard for aspiring female doctors and fighting for women’s rights.

Family of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Elizabeth Garrett was the second of twelve children, born on June 9, 1836, in Whitechapel, London, to Newson Garrett, a pawnbroker from Suffolk, and his wife, Louisa (née Dunnell), a Londoner. While residing in a Whitechapel pawnbroker’s store, the Garretts had their first three children in fast succession: Louie, Elizabeth, and Newson (who passed away at the age of 6 months). Her father moved the family to 142 Long Acre in London after working his way up the corporate ladder to become the manager of larger pawnbrokers and a goldsmith. Three more children were born during this time. When he was 29 years old, Newson relocated his family back to Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where he purchased a barley and coal merchants and built Snape Maltings, a collection of structures for malting barley. Five more children were born as the business grew, and by 1850, Newson was a successful businessman who had built the house Alde House on a hill behind Aldeburgh.

Early Life Of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Aldeburgh didn’t have a school, so Elizabeth learned from her mother. When she was 10 years old, a governess named Miss Edgeworth was hired to instruct both Elizabeth and her sister. When Elizabeth was 13 years old, the step aunts of poet Robert Browning sent her to a private boarding school in Blackheath, London. Elizabeth was unsatisfied with the lack of teaching in science and mathematics at the school where she was taught English literature, French, Italian, and German in addition to manners. Elizabeth’s parents encouraged all of their children to follow their interests in local politics and extracurricular activities. When Elizabeth finished school in 1850, she was sent on a brief journey abroad, which included a stop at the Great Exhibition in London, in contrast to the customs of the time. Elizabeth and her siblings were also encouraged to travel. After completing her official education, Elizabeth spent the following nine years taking care of household responsibilities while continuing to read widely and learn Latin and arithmetic.

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Is Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Founder Of Kensington Society?

Elizabeth had teamed up with some of her feminist friends in 1865 to create the Kensington Society, a women’s discussion club that organized a petition requesting that women be given the right to vote. Despite being turned down, liberals like John Stuart Mill and Henry Fawcett backed the petition. Elizabeth got friendly with Brighton’s blind MP Henry, but she turned down his marriage proposal because she thought it may hurt her career. Eventually, Fawcett wed Millicent, Elizabeth’s younger sister, who later rose to prominence in the constitutional movement for women’s suffrage. As a suffragist, Millicent adopted a moderate stance, but she was a dedicated activist who focused most of her efforts on the fight to increase women’s access to higher education. In 1871, she helped found Newnham College in Cambridge. Elizabeth served as Henry’s physician.

At the age of 18, Emily Davies, an early feminist and future co-founder of Girton College in Cambridge, was introduced to Elizabeth and her sister when they went to see their school friends Jane and Anne Crow in Gateshead. Elizabeth gained a lifetime friend and confide in Davies, who pushed her to pursue a job.

Elizabeth’s father supported her radical Ideals

At first, Newson was opposed to the notion of his daughter becoming a doctor, but he eventually changed his mind and did everything he could to support her efforts to become Britain’s first female doctor, both financially and in other ways. On the other side, her mother was appalled. With her father by her side, Elizabeth tried to enroll in a number of medical schools, but they all turned her down since they wouldn’t accept a female student. She also tried to visit prominent doctors in Harley Street. As a result, she worked for the first six months as a surgery nurse at Middlesex Hospital and attended lectures held there for male surgeons. She hired a tutor to study anatomy and physiology three times a week until she was permitted access to the dissecting room and chemistry lectures after failing to be accepted into the hospital’s medical school. Elizabeth was forced to leave the hospital after complaints from male students regarding her admission, but she did so with an honors certificate in chemistry and materia medica. Additionally, she earned a private certificate in anatomy and physiology.

After being turned down for admission to medical schools and being determined to obtain a qualifying diploma in order to have her name added to the Medical Register, Elizabeth found a way to get accepted to pursue the degree of Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (L.S.A.). She would be able to practice medicine with this degree, despite it not being as prestigious as an MD or doctor of medicine. She continued to struggle for acceptance while she studied and finally presented her credentials to the Society of Apothecaries in 1865, but they declined to conduct the exam. Elizabeth became the first woman in Britain to be qualified to practice medicine when her father, Newson, threatened legal action. As a result, the apothecaries changed their minds, and one year after Elizabeth received her license to practice, her name was added to the Medical Register. The Society of Apothecaries quickly altered its charter to require completion of an approved medical school as a requirement for the L.S.A degree once Elizabeth received her diploma, all of which excluded women. It would be 12 years before the name of another lady was entered into the Medical Register. Elizabeth was the first British woman to earn an English medical degree, but Elizabeth Blackwell, a friend of hers, holds the distinction of being the first woman listed on the British Medical Register

Despite having a medical license, Elizabeth was unable to accept a position in a hospital. With the help of her father, she was able to open her own clinic at 20 Upper Berkeley Street in London, and shortly after, St Mary’s Dispensary for Women and Children.

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Professional Life Of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

When she first started her profession, clients were few and hesitant to see a female doctor. However, as a Cholera outbreak became imminent, desperate individuals of all classes flocked to her clinic. In the first year, she saw 9,3000 outpatient visits to the dispensary from 3,000 new patients.

Elizabeth got into a disagreement with Josephine Butler, a feminist and social reformer who fought for women’s suffrage, the right of women to better education, the outlawment of child prostitution, and the prohibition of human trafficking, during this time. The Contagious Diseases Acts were the topic of discussion because Butler thought they discriminated against women. Elizabeth believed that these restrictions were the only way to safeguard helpless women and children.

Elizabeth, who was adamant about getting her medical degree, taught herself French in order to enroll at a Parisian institution. She had heard that the dean of the University of Sorbonne’s college of medicine was more receptive to enrolling female medical students. She earned the first female MD degree in France in 1870.

Elizabeth Was The First British Woman to Have a Medical Position

Elizabeth garnered the most votes of any candidate when she was elected to the inaugural London School Board in 1870, a position that had just been made open to women. In addition, she was appointed as one of the visiting doctors at the East London Hospital for Children, making her the first woman in Britain to hold a position in medicine.

Elizabeth Establish The First teaching hospital for women

Elizabeth’s pharmacy was transformed into the New Hospital for Women and Children in 1872 and began providing gynecological care to women from all across London. Elizabeth Blackwell, the person who motivated Elizabeth to pursue a career in medicine, was appointed Professor of Gynecology and the organization was run solely by women. The hospital relocated to new facilities in 1874, the same year Elizabeth and other trailblazing female doctors and feminists like Sophia Jex-Blake, Emily Blackwell, and Thomas Henry Huxley co-founded the London School of Medicine for Women, the only teaching hospital in Britain at the time to train women. Jex-Blake anticipated taking over, but Elizabeth decided that Isabel Thorne would be a better choice because of her temperament. Elizabeth served as the institution’s dean from 1883 to 1902; Jex-Blake was the lone councilor to vote against it. The hospital eventually adopted the name Royal Free Hospital of Medicine and joined what is now University College London’s medical school.

For 19 years, Elizabeth was the only woman to be a member of the British Medical Association.

Elizabeth joined the British Medical Association (BMA) in 1873, but after the Association decided against admitting more women, she was the sole female member for the next 19 years. She was chosen as the East Anglian branch’s president in 1897.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Garrett Was Involved in The Women’s Suffrage movement

Elizabeth was prominent in the women’s suffrage movement, though not as much as her sister Millicent Garrett Fawcett. She and Emily Davies presented petitions in 1866 with more than 1,500 signatures asking for the right to vote for female heads of home. She also joined the British Women’s Suffrage Committee. After her husband passed away in 1907, she joined the National Society for Women’s Suffrage Central Committee in 1889 and became increasingly involved. Elizabeth maintained her involvement in politics by running for mayor of Aldeburgh in 1908, becoming the first female mayor of England. She also spoke out in favor of women’s suffrage. She joined the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) at the age of 72 and stormed the House of Commons while on a lecture tour with Anne Kenny. She left the WSPU in 1911, nevertheless, protesting their arson campaign as militant action escalated at the time.

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