This newspaper article contains a brief autobiographical study of Britain’s first qualified female doctor, Mary Scharlieb. The wife of a colonial barrister, Scharlieb gained a number of qualifications in general medicine and obstetrics in Madras, India and Vienna, Austria, before going on to found the Royal Victoria Hospital for High Caste and Gosha Women, again in Madras.
Dame Mary Scharlieb OBE (1845-1930) is one of the most remarkable figures in British medical history. She was inspired to set up her hospital in Madras by the observation that most doctors in India were men and were therefore forbidden to treat Muslim or high-born Hindu women. She became Senior Surgeon at the New Hospital for Women (later the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital) in 1892, and became president of the Royal Free Hospital in 1917. In 1920, she became one of the first women magistrates in England.
University education being unknown for women in Britain during her time abroad, Scharlieb had to wait till 1889 to qualify as an M.D. London University had became the first in Britain to allow women students in 1878. By 1880 four women had passed their BA examination there, and in 1881 two women obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. By 1895 over 10 per cent of graduates at London University were women, a figure that had risen to 30 per cent by the time Scharlieb graduated.
- Article by:
- Kathryn Hughes
- Gender and sexuality
From marriage and sexuality to education and rights, Professor Kathryn Hughes looks at attitudes towards gender in 19th-century Britain.
- Article by:
- Liza Picard
In an increasingly complicated world, the chances for an illiterate boy or girl were slim. In light of this, a number of day schools were established. These included the Ragged Schools, Parish Schools and Church Schools.