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Miller, Florence Fenwick (1854-1935): autobiography 'An Uncommon Girlhood'

  • Miller, Florence Fenwick, 1854-1935
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About this work


'An uncommon girlhood', memoir of the first twenty-five years of Fenwick Miller's life (typed by her daughter, militant suffragette Irene Miller), including her struggle for medical education, her involvement in this and other campaigns and with radical circles of the day, her election to the London School Board, and her marriage.



Physical description

2 boxes

Acquisition note

This memoir was given to the Contemporary Medical Archives centre in June 1997 by Florence Fenwick Miller's great-granddaughter, Isobel Brougham, through the good offices of Professor Rosemary Van Arsdel

Biographical note

Florence Fenwick Miller was a leading late Victorian feminist, and the outline of her life and career may be discovered in Who Was Who 1929-1940 and the Dictionary of National Biography: Missing Persons. She was one of the first women to qualify in medicine in the United Kingdom, having been part of Sophia Jex-Blake's first doomed attempt to obtain medical education for women at the University of Edinburgh, then studying at the short-lived Medical College for Women in London, and finally achieving registration when this was ultimately conceded to women in 1878. She practised only briefly, subsequently becoming a popular writer and speaker on popular physiology as well as feminist and political subjects, and a prolific journalist and editor. In 1876 she was elected to represent Hackney on the London School Board, and served three consecutive terms, 1877-1885. In 1877 she married Frederick Alfred Ford, but retained her own name, being addressed as Mrs Fenwick Miller. There were two daughters of the marriage.

This fascinating memoir unfortunately ends in Mrs Fenwick Miller's twenty-fifth year. However, it contains the account of her struggle for medical education, her contacts with the other pioneers in this field and their male allies, and her experiences in medical practice. She was also involved with the London Dialectical Society and freethought and Malthusian circles during the years described. Some odd pages are missing, and although there seems to have been another copy at one time, held in the family bank, this has not so far been traced as still in existence.

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