James Miranda Barry

Other names: 
Margaret Ann Bulkley, James Miranda Stuart Barry
c. 1789-1799 – 25 July 1865

James Miranda Stuart Barry was born Margaret Ann Bulkley in Ireland between 1789 and 1799. Her parents were Jeremiah and Mary-Ann Bulkley, and she had an older brother John. Her uncle was James Barry, the artist.

Women were not allowed to study medicine at this time and she disguised herself as a man in order to study medicine at Edinburgh University Medical School

She qualified in 1812 becoming the first woman to have graduated from The University of Edinburgh, this achievement only recently being recognised; and the first female medical graduate in Britain.

After Edinburgh she studied in London and then began a remarkable career, becoming an army surgeon with posts in South Africa, The Caribbean, Corfu and Canada, rising to become an Inspector General Surgeon of the British Army.

She was a highly accomplished surgeon being credited with the first caesarian section by a British surgeon; a pioneer of hygienic practice achieving higher recovery rates wherever she was posted; a humanitarian who endeavoured to secure equal treatment for women, people of different races and those less fortunate, at a time when these were considered to have no rights.

She was a controversial and eccentric figure all her life with various myths surrounding her both during and after her death.

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