Sophia Jex-Blake: A Woman Pioneer in Nineteenth Century Medical Reform

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Routledge, 1993 - Medical - 207 pages
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The opening up of the British medical profession to women was largely due to Sophia Jex-Blake. As a result of her crusade, women's rights to higher education, professional careers and financial independence were more generally accepted.
In this first modern biography of Sophia Jex-Blake, Shirley Roberts charts the career of this important pioneer. Her dedication to the cause of women in medicine began when she met two leading women doctors in the United States - Lucy Sewall and Elizabeth Blackwell. On returning to Great Britain, she embarked on a five-year battle with the authorities of the University of Edinburgh for the right of women to take examinations for medical degrees. Later, her campaign through the law courts and in parliament won increasing public support, and was instrumental in two key developments: the passing of legislation allowing women access to medical training, and the foundation of the London School of Medicine for Women.
She became Scotland's first woman doctor, conducting her own successful medical practice in Edinburgh, but the medical school for women which she founded in 1874 collapsed in a chaos of acrimony ten years later. Unfortunately, after her death most of her private papers were destroyed by her companion, Margaret Todd. However, Shirley Roberts' account reveals a woman of great courage and intelligence, though one who was also a controversial figure, whose determination and tenacity provoked hostility from some. Sophia Jex-Blake is a fascinating account of one woman's struggle for equality.

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