Louisa Garrett Anderson
Louisa Garrett Anderson was a surgeon and suffragette who was born on 28th July 1873 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. Her mother, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) was the first woman to qualify as a doctor in Britain. Louisa followed her mother into the medical profession, and gained a reputation as a talented surgeon. She later rose to prominence in another field: women’s suffrage. Louisa was part of the Women’s Social and Political Union which, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, pursued a campaign for votes for women. In 1912, Louisa was imprisoned for her role in the campaign, which included throwing a brick through a window.
When war broke out in 1914, Louisa founded the Women’s Hospital Corps, which served overseas in France. Alongside her friend and colleague Dr Flora Murray she set up military hospitals to treat wounded soldiers. These hospitals were staffed entirely by women, and here Louisa served as chief surgeon, performing nearly 7000 operations.
Taking into account this extensive list of achievements, why is that we rarely hear the name Louisa Garrett Anderson in the history books? Is it because she shared her life with a woman?
Throughout her lifetime, Louisa’s work, both medical and suffrage, was carried out alongside Flora Murray. They lived and worked together until Flora’s death in 1923, and they remain together to this day, in a shared grave, under the inscription ‘We have been gloriously happy’.