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British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860–1918


  • Date Published: November 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316637494

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About the Authors
  • When women agitated to join the medical profession in Britain during the 1860s, the practice of surgery proved both a help (women were neat, patient and used to needlework) and a hindrance (surgery was brutal, bloody and distinctly unfeminine). In this major new study, Claire Brock examines the cultural, social and self-representation of the woman surgeon from the second half of the nineteenth century until the end of the Great War. Drawing on a rich archive of British hospital records, she investigates precisely what surgery women performed and how these procedures affected their personal and professional reputation, as well as the reactions of their patients to these new phenomena. Essential reading for those interested in the history of medicine, British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860–1918 provides wide-ranging new perspectives on patient narratives and women's participation in surgery between 1860 and 1918. This title is also available as Open Access.

    • Explores what women actually did in the operating theatre, providing a new perspective on how surgeons operate
    • Considers patient narratives, presenting the reader with a viewpoint rarely explored in the history of surgery
    • Draws upon archives of British hospital records in order to provide new insight into the history of surgery and women's place within it, as practitioners and as patients
    • This title is also available as Open Access
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book reconstructs the experience of both women surgeons as well as women patients - a unique combination of perspectives that is highly relevant for the history of surgery, but also for present day discussions.' Thomas Schlich, McGill University, Montréal

    'Claire Brock provides a fascinating and pioneering study of early women surgeons and their intersections with the changing practice of surgery. This is an important addition to the literature on women doctors, and a must read for all those interested in women's complex relationships with medicine.' Hilary Marland, University of Warwick

    'With the entry of women into Victorian surgery in Britain, gender roles and occupational identities were reshaped. In this important work Claire Brock shows how women variously adopted the masculine culture of nineteenth-century surgeons and feminised a traditional male practice. Sensitivity to nuance is the key to what was happening here and Brock displays it in abundance.' Christopher Lawrence, Emeritus Professor of the History of Medicine, University College London

    '… what an impressive story Brock has to tell. It is important to know what these early women surgeons did and the obstacles they overcame. I was especially taken by Brock's portrait of the eagerness of these women to cut open bodies, to try to solve the problems that major surgery promised to solve.' Marjorie Levine-Clark, The American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316637494
    • length: 315 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 150 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 47 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of charts and tables
    List of illustrations
    Introduction: disapproval, curiosity, amusement, obstinate hostility? Women and surgery, 1860–1918
    1. From controversy to consolidation: surgery at the New Hospital for Women, 1872–1902
    2. The experiences of female surgical patients at the Royal Free Hospital, 1903–13
    3. Women surgeons and the treatment of malignant disease
    4. Inside the theatre of war
    5. Operating on the Home Front, 1914–18

  • Author

    Claire Brock, University of Leicester
    Claire Brock is Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts at the University of Leicester. She is the author of two monographs, The Feminization of Fame, 1750–1830 (2006) and The Comet Sweeper (2007), and the editor of New Audiences for Science: Women, Children, and Labourers (2013). Brock won the British Society for the History of Science's international Singer Prize for young scholars (2005) and received a Wellcome Trust Research Leave Award (2012–14) for British Women Surgeons and their Patients, 1860–1918.

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