Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the professionalism of medical publicity
journal contributionposted on 03.11.2014, 15:28 by Claire Brock
This article examines how early women doctors managed their professional and public images in the second half of the nineteenth century through a case study of the career of the first medical woman to qualify in Britain: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917). In fighting for their cause, Victorian women doctors had to negotiate the medical profession's disdain for what it considered 'unprofessional advertising', which it aligned with quackery, while, at the same time, attempting to publicize the medical women's movement to the wider world. Through close analysis of Garrett Anderson's public image and private correspondence, I argue that she achieved medical fame through the careful maintenance both of public confidence and professional respect, promoting her cause through a subtle sleight-of-hand. While Elizabeth Garrett Anderson appeared, on the surface, to subvert her sex beneath her profession, in doing so she in fact emphasized simultaneously the right of women to a professional occupation and corresponding renown.