'My strength lies in the extra amount of daring which I have as a family endowment. All Garretts have it' - Elizabeth Garrett 1864
No other family was as active, and successful, on so many fronts as the Garretts. Their ideas and leadership had enormous influence. They saw how education for women was a basic need, and how suffrage would be worthwhile as a right in itself and as a route to much else. There were six sisters, the three most prominent being Elizabeth (Garrett Anderson); Millicent (Garrett Fawcett); and Agnes, who with her cousin Rhoda started an Arts and Crafts architectural business. The other sisters, although less prominent, were closely involved with the radical interests of the family. Jenifer Glynn's real achievement in this thoroughly researched and eminently readable biography, is to show how the Garrett sisters inspired, encouraged and supported each other in their common goals.
Meeting with Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman physician, convinced Elizabeth Garrett that she should become a doctor. Overcoming every obstacle she succeeded and later, in 1872, she founded the New Hospital for Women in London, which was staffed entirely by women. Millicent was a tireless campaigner for women's opportunities in higher education and was an outspoken suffragist. She co-founded Newnham College in Cambridge in 1871 and was President of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. Her memory is preserved in the name of the Fawcett Society.
Using letters, diaries and contemporary writings, Jenifer Glynn chronicles the struggles and the triumphs of the Garretts. Thanks to Elizabeth's pioneering work there are now more women than men as medical students; in Millicent's lifetime women achieved the vote on the same terms as men; and it is because of the work of Agnes and Rhoda that it is now totally accepted that women should qualify as architects and run their own businesses.