My article on the Edinburgh 7 was published recently in the Highlander magazine as The Edinburgh 7 and Their Fight to Become Doctors. It told how, in 1869, seven women applied to study medicine at Edinburgh University. They were accepted but with various restrictions and were the first women to register for a degree at any university in the UK.
After many difficulties, including a riot when they tried to sit an anatomy exam and male students pelted them with mud and shouted obscenities, they completed four years study but were prevented from taking their exams. This meant that they could not graduate and they were forced to complete their degrees abroad. However, their leader, Sophia Jex-Blake, qualified in Dublin and returned to Edinburgh in 1878 where she was the first female doctor in the city.
Now Edinburgh University has decided to right a wrong and on Saturday July 6th 2019, 150 years after they matriculated, it will award them posthumous MBChB degrees.
The Plaque at Surgeon’s Hall
Recently I’ve been writing articles for an American magazine, The Highlander. The magazine focusses on Scotland before the 20th century and takes all sorts of interesting stories about people and places and events.
So far this year, they have published two of mine, both on the town of Haddington; one about Bruce’s Charter which he gave to the town in 1318 and which is kept in the John Gray Centre in the town, and another on the street where we lived temporarily while waiting for our new home to be ready. There aren’t many streets that can claim to have a Custom Stone at one end and the site of a battle at the other with John Knox’s school in the middle for good measure!
They are also publishing my article on Susan Ferrier, known as ‘Scotland’s Jane Austen’ who lived in Edinburgh, was a great friend of Sir Walter Scott and was a very successful writer in her day, with a caustic wit and wonderful characters in her books.
So now I’m researching more stories to write up. Yesterday we visited Dunbar and John Muir’s Birthplace. John Muir is revered in the United States for his work in setting up the first National Parks there, particularly Yosemite, so I want to find a different angle to write about as I’m sure the magazine will have published many articles about him.
I’m also trying to find out more about Vaclav Jicha, a much decorated World War II Czech pilot who was killed near Soutra Hill just south of here when his plane crashed in a snowstorm. He is buried in Haddington and now has a street named after him here.
And then of course, there are the competitions for the Scottish Association of Writers conference to enter…..
I think I’m going to be busy!