Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1900 (public domain image)
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Elizabeth Garrett Anderson 1900 (public domain image)

The following Elizabeth Garrett Anderson biography is adapted slightly from an entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911. See Elizabeth Garrett Anderson for a modern biography.

ANDERSON, ELIZABETH GARRETT (1836- ), English medical practitioner, daughter of Newson Garrett, of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, was born in 1836, and educated at home and at a private school. In 1860 she resolved to study medicine, an unheard-of thing for a woman in those days, and one which was regarded by old-fashioned people as almost indecent.

Miss Garrett managed to obtain some more or less irregular instruction at the Middlesex hospital, London, but was refused admission as a full student both there and at many other schools to which she applied. Finally she studied anatomy privately at the London hospital, and with some of the professors at St Andrews University, 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, London, allowed her to enter for the License of Apothecaries’ Hall, which she obtained in 1865.

In 1866 she was appointed general medical attendant to St Mary’s dispensary, a London institution started to enable poor women to obtain medical help from qualified practitioners of their own sex. The dispensary soon developed into the New hospital for women, and there she worked for over twenty years.

In 1870 she obtained the Paris degree of M.D. 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 Mr J. G. S. Anderson (d. 1907), a London shipowner, but did not give up practice.

She worked steadily at the development of the New hospital, and (from 1874) at the creation of a complete school of medicine in London 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, W.C.) having over 200 students, most of them preparing for the medical degree of London University, which was opened to women in 1877.

In 1897 Mrs Garrett Anderson was elected president of the East Anglian branch of the British Medical Association. In 1908 she was elected (the first lady) mayor of Aldeburgh. The movement for the admission of women to the medical profession, of which she was the indefatigable pioneer in England, has extended to every civilized country except Spain and Turkey.