On 6 October Professor Lawrence Goldman of the Institute of Historical Research at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, gave a keynote lecture on Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, one of the most important feminists in British history.
Entitled ‘Elizabeth Garrett Anderson in context: the origins of the women’s movement in mid-Victorian Britain’, it was part of a weekend of activities held in Aldeburgh to celebrate her life and work. Commemorations included the performance of ‘A Woman of Purpose’, a play by Susanne Hawkes based on Anderson’s life; a dinner in her honour; an exhibition in Aldeburgh’s famous Moot Hall, lectures, and a church service.
It was Aldeburgh’s way of thanking the woman who was elected its mayor in 1908, six years after retiring to the Suffolk coastal town where she died in 1917. By doing so, she became England’s first female mayor.
In his lecture, Professor Goldman outlined the many achievements of this pioneering physician and political campaigner, the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor. Always determined to pave the way for other women, Anderson established the New Hospital for Women in London (later renamed after her), and a medical school to train women doctors, which became the Royal Free Hospital. As a member of the Langham Place Circle women’s group, she campaigned for the suffrage, women’s employment and laws to protect the property of married women.