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March 9th, 2022

Remembering the Suffragettes: Flora Murray (1869-1923)

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

LSE PAGE

March 9th, 2022

Remembering the Suffragettes: Flora Murray (1869-1923)

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Flora Murray used her medical experience to support Suffragettes recovering from hunger strike in prison and advocate for the British War Office’s acceptance of services offered by women surgeons. This is the second blog post in the Remember the Suffragettes blog series, looking at the lives of four suffrage campaigners from our Women’s Library. 

Flora Murray (1869-1923) was a predominant doctor and suffragette during the early 20th century. Her medical career began in 1890 when she became a probationer nurse at the London Hospital in Whitechapel. Flora then went onto study with the London School of Medicine for Women, the University of Durham and the University of Cambridge.

Flora Murray, Endell Street Military Hospital. 7LGA/6/2. LSE
Flora Murray, Endell Street Military Hospital. 7LGA/6/2. LSE

After completing her studies, Flora began working with the Belgrave Children’s Hospital, the Chelsea Hospital for Women, before founding the Women’s Hospital for Children with her partner Louisa Garrett Anderson.

Flora Murray's partner Louisa Garrett Anderson and their two dogs William and Garrett. 7LGA/6/4. LSE
Flora Murray’s partner Louisa Garrett Anderson and their two dogs William and Garrett. 7LGA/6/4. LSE

During this time Flora became very engaged in the Suffragette movement. She participated in Millicent Fawcett’s National Union and Emmeline Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Flora made use of her medical knowledge in the movement by providing care to Suffragettes recovering from hunger strike in prison.

Due to discrimination against female doctors, Flora and Louisa were unable to work in mainstream hospitals and with male patients. However, the outbreak of the first World War provided new opportunities. Together Flora and Louisa founded the Women’s Hospital Corps and set up a hospital in France. They were then asked to set up a hospital based in London, at Endell Street in Covent Garden.

The Staff of the Military Hospital Endell St, August 1916. Drs Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson seated on chairs centre, Anderson with dog, eleven doctors each side of them (no veils, dark lapels); Matron Grace Hale centre behind; Quartermaster Olga Campbell in front row with dog; orderly Nina Last, sixth from left on the top row; nurse Barbara Last, third row down, second from left of the women dressed in white. The last woman on the right hand side without a veil is believed to be Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne, an Australian doctor. LSE
The Staff of the Military Hospital Endell St, August 1916. Drs Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson seated on chairs centre, Anderson with dog, eleven doctors each side of them (no veils, dark lapels); Matron Grace Hale centre behind; Quartermaster Olga Campbell in front row with dog; orderly Nina Last, sixth from left on the top row; nurse Barbara Last, third row down, second from left of the women dressed in white. The last woman on the right hand side without a veil is believed to be Eleanor Elizabeth Bourne, an Australian doctor. LSE

Flora sadly died of cancer in 1923 at the age of 54. Flora and Louisa’s achievements were remembered by fellow Suffragette Evelyn Sharp in her 1933 book An Unfinished Adventure:

It was in a way a triumph for the militant movement that these two doctors, who had been prominent members of the WSPU, were the first to break down the prejudice of the British War Office against accepting the services of women surgeons.

Flora Murray discharges patients, Endell Street Military Hospital. 7LGA/6/15. LSE
Flora Murray discharges patients, Endell Street Military Hospital. 7LGA/6/15. LSE

 

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Pencils on a yellow background. Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

LSE PAGE

LSE's Philanthropy and Global Engagement division (PAGE) supports and advances the School’s philanthropic, alumni, corporate and international partnership engagement.

Posted In: LSE Library | People | Women at LSE

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