Maggie Myles (1892 - 1988), midwife, was born at 52 Spital, Aberdeen, on 30 December 1892. She remains to this day an exemplary reflective practitioner and an inspiration for lifelong learning; she took continuous professional development to a whole new level, both within her field and internationally. This is an abridged version of E.J.C Scott's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Daughter of Robert Fraser Findlay, journeyman house painter and his wife Mary,née McDougall. Her father was a native of Aberdeen; her mother was from the Scottish borders and is believed to have been in in domestic service before marriage.
Margaret Findlay spent her childhood in Aberdeen, but migrated to Canada soon after leaving school. There, she trained as a nurse at Yorktown, and married a Canadian farmer, Charles James Myles, in 1919. Their son Ian was born in 1920. Charles Myles was an officer in the Canadian army during the First World War, and he died the same year while he was in France.
Now a widow with a newborn son, Myles returned to her parental home in Aberdeen. She trained as a midwife and practiced as a district nurse in and around the Aberdeenshire village of Alford. Her son died of pneumonia in 1924. She left Alford to repeat her nursing training at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
She then returned to Canada to undertake an education course at McGill University. Next, she worked as director of midwifery education in Philadelphia and Detroit. Around 1935, she had heard that a new maternity hospital was being built in Edinburgh and she decided this was where she would like to practise as a midwifery tutor. So she returned to the UK and took a midwifery teacher’s diploma in London, and in 1939, when the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion was opened in Edinburgh, she was appointed midwifery tutor, a post she held for 17 years.
Maggie Myles retired in 1954, giving up her teaching and clinical responsibilities on her retirement, but she didn’t retreat from the profession all together. She remained involved in midwifery and obstetric education and practice for many years.
Prior to her retirement, she had contributed articles to professional journals in the UK, Canada, the USA on midwifery and education, and had written a book on the care of babies for schoolchildren.
The first edition of her Textbook for Midwives was published in 1953, and more recently edited versions are still in use today. In her lifetime, ten different editions of the textbook were published, there were twenty reprints and it was translated into 5 languages, including Japanese.
Mrs Myles, as she was known, did not hold sentimental links with past practices; she could remember the era when there was little or no antenatal care for pregnant women, and when maternal and infant mortality rates were so high that they represented a significant social problem. She was aware that well-trained and educated midwives were crucially important in lowering these mortality rates, and to this end she worked tirelessly, long into retirement, ensuring that the information included in her textbook reflected current knowledge and developments. In Scotland she was a revered presence, but she traveled the world to promote the formal training of midwives and as a result became internationally known and respected as an authoritative lecturer on her chosen profession.
She was made Honorary Fellow of the Edinburgh Obstetrical Society in 1978.
She died on 15 February 1988 at the Hillside Nursing Home, Banchory, Kincardinshire, and was cremated the same month at the Aberdeen crematorium.