Who was the first British woman master surgeon?


Louisa Aldridge Blake entered the medical school at the Royal Free Hospital in 1887 and five years later gained first class honours in medicine and obstetrics.  She gained a degree in surgery the following year and a Master’s degree in surgery in 1895, the first British woman to gain that qualification.

Louisa was appointed as a surgeon at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s New Hospital for Women where she worked until her death in 1926. She also practiced surgery at the Royal Free Hospital. She became Vice-Dean of the London School of Medicine for Women in 1905 and Dean from 1914.

Louisa went to France in 1915 and 1916 performing many operations for French soldiers at Royaumont before joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. She organised a group of eighty qualified women medical staff to serve in Malta, Egypt and Salonica until the end of the war. Her professional distinction and her remarkable war work resulted in the award of DBE in 1925.

Photo credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons