As part of International Women’s Day 2024, we celebrate the extraordinary life of Dr Elsie Maud Inglis.

Dr Elsie Maud Inglis (1864 – 1917) was a physician, surgeon, humanitarian, feminist, and pioneer of medical education for women. Born in India, she came to Scotland when she was about fourteen and studied medicine in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In 1887 Elsie began studying at the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women, the innovative and radical (for its time!) school founder by Sophia Jex Blake a year earlier. Jex Blake’s uncompromising approach to discipline and her expulsion of two fellow students led her to leave the school, and with the help of her father, she started her own alternative: The Edinburgh College of Medicine for Women.

Dismayed by the lack of medical provision for women, Elsie set up a maternity hospital entirely staffed by women at 219 High Street (Royal Mile). The hospital was for the poorest women of the Old Town, and Elsie often waived fees and paid for patients to recuperate by the sea. Elsie also became involved with the campaign for women’s rights to vote, becoming the secretary of the Edinburgh chapter of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1906 and for the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies. She campaigned tirelessly and travelled the length and breadth of the UK giving talks and lectures.

During the First World War, Elsie organised hospital units staffed by women for overseas service – the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service. She led one of these hospitals in Serbia, where she was the first woman to receive the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Serbian honour for heroism.

8 Walker Street – Hickory Head Quarters

In 1901, Dr Elsie Maud Inglis lived at 8 Walker Street – our Hickory Head Quarters! A plaque by our front door is our daily reminder of Dr Elsie Maud Inglis’ integral role in women’s rights across Scotland.

Happy International Women’s Day from everyone at Hickory!