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GB 106 7LGA - Papers of Louisa Garrett Anderson
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Papers of Louisa Garrett Anderson

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This material is held at The Women's Library
Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA
Dates of Creation 1879-1943
Language of Material English
Physical Description 1 A box and 1.5 OS box

Scope and Content

The archive consists of letters from Louisa to her mother Elizabeth Garrett Anderson from Holloway, letters to her family from the Women's Hospital Corps, Paris during First World War, a scrapbook relating to Endell Street Military Hospital and photographs.

Administrative / Biographical History

Louisa Garrett Anderson (1873-1943) was the daughter of James Skelton and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. She had one brother, Alan Garrett Anderson, and a sister, Margaret, who died of meningitis in 1875. She was educated at St Leonard's School (May 1888-Apr 1891) and later Bedford College (1890-3). In 1892 she entered the London School of Medicine for Women, and qualified with a MB in 1897, and BS in 1898. In 1900 she gained her MD. Louisa did a postgraduate year at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore in 1902.As well as becoming established as a doctor Louisa was politically active, taking a keen interest in suffrage activities, like many of her family. She was a member of: the London Society for Women's Suffrage; the London Graduates' Union for Women's Suffrage (where she chaired the inaugural meeting); the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU); the United Suffragists (Vice-President); and the National Political League.On 4 Mar 1912 Anderson smashed a window in Rutland Gate in protest at a speech made by an anti-suffragist Cabinet minister. She was arrested and sent to Holloway Prison for 6 weeks with hard labour (later reduced to one month by direct intervention of the Home Office).Louisa founded the Women's Hospital for Children, 688 Harrow Road, with Dr Flora Murray, in 1912. Murray was a former student of the London School of Medicine for Women, also an active supporter of the WSPU, and it is likely that the two women met in the course of their suffrage work.Louisa was also on the staff at the New Hospital for Women as an assistant surgeon.In Aug 1914, together with Flora Murray, Louisa founded the Women's Hospital Corps, under the auspices of the French Red Cross. Louisa was the Chief Surgeon. The two women established a hospital in the Hotel Claridge in Paris, which ran from Sep 1914 to Jan 1915. In Nov 1914 they were asked to open a second hospital at Wimereux, under the Royal Army Medicine Corps (RAMC), which also ran until early 1915. They were then offered hospital premises in London, so closed both hospitals in France and returned to England. The Endell Street Military Hospital, the first hospital in the UK established expressly for men by women, ran from May 1915 until Dec 1919, and during that time treated over 26,000 patients, 24,000 of them male. The hospital has been largely forgotten today, partly because of its relatively small size, and partly because of its anomalous position as a women-run institution in a largely hostile RAMC. The best source of the activities of the Women's Hospital Corps in World War One is the account by Flora Murray, published in 1920: Women as Army Surgeons: being the history of the Women's Hospital Corps in Paris, Wimereux and Endell Street, Sep 1914-Oct 1919 (London: Hodder and Stoughton). In 1917 Murray and Anderson were awarded the CBE for their war work.Flora Murray was Louisa Garrett Anderson's close friend and companion from about 1910 until Murray's death in 1923. They jointly owned a house, Paul End, at Penn in Buckinghamshire. Before meeting Murray, Anderson had had a close relationship with the suffragist Evelyn Sharp - there are a few passionate letters from Anderson in the Evelyn Sharp Papers in the Bodleian Library. In her diary, Evelyn Sharp describes how she wrote an obituary of Anderson, published in the Manchester Guardian (a copy is in the Women's Library Biographical Press Cuttings collection).After the war the two women continued to work at their hospital in the Harrow Road until forced to close it because of lack of funds in 1921. They then retired to the country. Murray had a brief illness in 1923 and was diagnosed with rectal carcinoma. She had a series of operations at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and died at a nursing home in Belsize Park in 1923. Anderson continued to live at Penn. She was a magistrate, and remained interested in women's issues. When war broke out she let her house and came to London to stay with Louie Brook, former Secretary of the London School of Medicine for Women, in Russell Square. She was given a place on the surgical staff at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital. In 1943 she was found to have disseminated malignant disease, and was taken to a nursing home in Brighton, where she died on 15 Nov 1943. Louisa was cremated at Brighton and her ashes scattered there, but her family arranged for an inscription commemorating her friendship and work with Flora Murray to be placed on the latter's tombstone in the churchyard at Holy Trinity, Penn.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Deposited in 2006 by Mrs Catriona Williams (a great great grand-daughter of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson), with thanks to Jennian Geddes.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library holds the Papers of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, her mother (7EGA) and the Papers of Millicent Garrett Fawcett, her aunt (7MGF). The Women's Library also holds the records of the Tax Resistance League. 3 letters from Louisa to Millicent Fawcett,1908, M50/2/1/246-248 are held in the Papers of Millicent Garrett Fawcett at Manchester Archives and Local Studies. The records of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital at London Metropolitan Archives also include a couple of letters by Louisa (H13/EGA/228/4 &6). The National Archives hold correspondence relating to Louisa Garrett Anderson's imprisonment (ref: HO 144/1193/220196 (1-233) ).


  1. See also: Women as army surgeons : being the history of the women's hospital corps in Paris, Wimereux and Endell Street, September 1914-October 1919 by Flora Murray, London : Hodder and Stoughton, [1920]. 'Elizabeth Garrett Anderson / Louisa Garrett Anderson' by Louisa Garrett Anderson, London : Faber and Faber, 1939. 'Women as Army Surgeons: The Women's Hospital Corps' Masters Dissertation by Jennian Geddes May 2005 (These publications are held in The Women's Library Printed Collections).Wars in the Wards: The Social Construction of Medical Work in First World War Britain by Janet SK Watson Journal of British Studies, volume 41 (2002), pages 484-510


Womens suffrage
World war
Medical personnel
Maternal and child health
Womens health

Personal Names

Anderson Louisa Garrett 1873-1943 physician
Anderson Elizabeth Garrett 1836-1917 physician

Cataloguing Info

Title The Women's Library: Papers of Louisa Garrett Anderson
Author The Women's Library
Publication The Women's Library 28/02/2008
Creation Finding aid created by export from CALM v7.2.14 Archives Hub EAD2002


Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1
Dates of Creation Mar 1912
Physical Description 10 items

Related Material


Ref: HO 144/1193/220196 (1-233) Disturbances: Suffragettes' demonstration. Imprisonment. Forcible Feeding

Petition to the Home Secretary by LGA, dated 13 Mar 1912

"I ask for permission (1) to obtain 2 professional books:

Cheatle's Diseases of Children

Clifford Albutt System of Medicine, Gynaecology (by Eden)

And also (2) for leave to see Dr Flora Murray on business as she is replacing me professionally during my absence."

Note on file dated 16 Mar 1912: "The request as to the books has been allowed under the Standing Orders. The Commissioners have already refused a request from Dr Flora Murray to see Miss Anderson as the prisoner is not entitled, and will not be entitled, under the Rules to a visit during her sentence. (All these prisoners must have known that they wd be arrested and had every opportunity of arranging their professional or business affairs beforehand.) If the Secretary of State agrees that this visit should be refused, the answer might be sent from the Home Office."

Letter to the Prison Commissioners from Alan Anderson, Priors Hill, Aldeburgh, 1 Apr 1912:


My sister, Miss LG Anderson MD, is I understand to be released from Holloway on Tuesday 9 Apr: her immediate family circle oppose her 'militant' methods of argument and desire to exercise their influence on my sister immediately after her release when she may be open to suggestion from those about her. If it were decided to free her before instead of immediately after the Easter holiday she would have a few days of quiet with her mother in the country before she could resume her work and as the halo of martyrdom faded she would be helped to regain her mental balance. If she is released immediately after Easter she will be (without any interval of quiet) the emotional centre of an excited circle and the object of much hero worship. We do not wish to labour the point but the holiday presents a chance of applying the right influence at a critical time - hence the suggestion.

I remain Gentleman, Yours faithfully,

Alan G Anderson."

Notes on file:

2 Apr 1912: "Miss Garrett Anderson is due for release next Monday morning 8 Apr. I do not think she can be released before Good Friday but, if her mother and brother will meet her on Saturday afternoon, and carry her away from her suffragette friends, I think this might perhaps be allowed."

Note below by the Home Secretary:

"On the whole I think she might be let out on Thursday." RMcK, 2 Apr 1912

Press cuttings

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/1
Dates of Creation 6 Mar 1912
Physical Description 2 items

Scope and Content

Two sheets of press cuttings from Street's Press Cuttings Agency dated 6 Mar 1912, describing Louisa Garrett Anderson's arrest and appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Letters from Holloway Prison

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/2
Dates of Creation Mar 1912
Physical Description 8 items

Scope and Content

8 letters of Louisa Garrett Anderson to her mother Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, smuggled out of Holloway prison. Transcriptions of the original letters are included in the item descriptions. The letters, mostly written in pencil, were folded in one envelope addressed to Mrs Garrett Anderson MD. Written in pencil by Sir Colin Anderson, LGA's nephew, on the envelope: 'Letters from LGA smuggled out of Holloway Gaol' .

On 5 Mar 1912 Louisa Garrett Anderson was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates Court to six weeks' hard labour for breaking a window at 47 Rutland Gate, home of Mr George Fuller. She pleaded guilty to causing window damage with a stone, under the wrong impression that it was Mr Hobhouse's [CEH Hobhouse, MP for Bristol, strongly anti-suffrage] house.

LGA: 'It was done as a political protest, and in reply largely to a speech made by Mr Hobhouse some time ago, in which he said he did not consider that the Suffrage agitation was supported by popular feeling, because women were not doing the damage to property similar to that committed by men in 1832 in the Reform riots.'

Magistrate: 'I am not going into what happened in 1832.'

LGA: 'We women must look back to 1832. We are fighting the same battle as was fought then, and if it is the only argument that the country can understand we are obliged to use it.'

Related Material

An additional letter from to Holloway by LGA to Mrs Wilkes is available in the Autograph Letters reference 9/26/006.

Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/2/1
Dates of Creation 6 Mar 1912
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison 'Holloway Gaol'. Written in pencil on two sides of a piece of thin paper. Transcript:


It is hard to believe that I saw you yesterday morning. It seems that I have moved into another world at least a century away. The sentences seemed to me very heavy yesterday but of course was ??about ['we had done' crossed out] serious damage, and the first thought with every government is that repression will stop disturbances arising from discontent - so that it was natural that the sentences should be heavier this time than ever before. I am trying not to think about the time and just to take each day as it comes. After all I went in for this after a great deal of thought so that I must not be overwhelmed by the waste of time and dullness etc etc etc. I am glad and proud to have done it because, ridiculous though it seems, I believe that this kind of fighting, in addition to every other form of pressure by constitutional means, is necessary to win our Cause.

If it were only a week, I should really be so interested in it as experience that I would not mind it very much. My cell isn't dirty and I think the food is good enough for a prison - we had white bread and tea for breakfast, cocoa and bread for supper, hot milk and potatoes and bread and an egg for dinner. I suppose sometimes they give butter. The officers seem to me quite a decent well mannered set of women. The new matron has entirely altered their tone I understand. The doctor woke me up about 12 last night to listen to my heart. He was inclined to treat the situation with a levity that I felt to be inappropriate and this morning the Chaplain has been.

I shall take very possible opportunity of getting letters out but there are very few quite short sentence people and it may not be easy to get them conveyed.

There are a lot of very fine people in here - as fellow gaol birds. I haven't been out to exercise yet but that is promised for this afternoon. It will make everything easier to bear and the day less dull when I go out with the others. I shall think of you all very lovingly on the 9th of ?? March.



Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/2/2
Dates of Creation 14 Mar 1912
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison 'Holloway Gaol'. Written in pencil, on two sides of the paper. Transcript:

Dearest Mother,

I feel as if I had been here a very long time but I am quite well and I am not minding the physical discomforts at all only the lack of exercise and the monotony and the idleness when there is so much to be done outside. I wonder if you will be in London for the Albert Hall meeting on the 20 or 22nd I think. It may be a very wonderful meeting. I hear that Mr Zangwill is to speak.

Barbara Ayrton is here but in another great block of the prison and I have only once seen her for a moment. It is difficult to realise that there is any outside world when one lives in a grinding official machine, cut off even from the sound of the trams. The police vans which rattle in about 6 oc are the closest link we have, and I can't say that they seem to bring me into intimate touch with the life I know best! I am dreadfully sorry for some of the people - our people I mean, for we do not see enough of the ordinary prisoners to know much about their circumstances. Many of our women have been sentenced to 2 mos hard labour for windows valued at 2/= and 3/= and 5/=, just little panes not of plate glass. Of course they should have realised before doing it that it was always possible that we shd all get maximum sentences. If one enters a rebellion, one does it deliberately and shd be ready to face the consequences calmly. The thing which strikes me very much is the way the women from poorer homes mind the prison food and the hard beds and the cold water etc etc. The women who have been used to luxuries don't mind about these things nearly so much - in fact not at all. I wonder if it is the same in a campaign and whether the officers stand deprivations with much less suffering than the men.

We have been to chapel several times. The Chaplain seems to fall short of what he might do and say under the circumstances but I suppose if it is one's job to be a prison chaplain one gets over the feeling of the immense tragedy and waste and sorrow of this place.

The girls even in their hideous prison clothes look quite ordinary people. The vast proportion of them are here for petty theft connected with street walking! Charged by the men who have used them! No outside evidence being given. It is too hideously mean, isn't it? In itself ample reason for being a suffragist.

The one hopeful thing about his place is the tone of the wardresses. They are ignorant women, of course, but very kindly not only to us but to the other prisoners in any dealings with them which we overhear. I think their tone which has evidently improved immeasurably has been set by the matron who is comparatively new.

I have been moved into another block and there is now a pane in my window which opens. I have friends near me. It is all very wonderful and interesting. I think it extraordinary that a common place quiet person like me should have had a chance of being in this great movement - shd have gone to prison for a Reform.

It's the multitude of common place people who are led on to carry ?? Reform, I suppose. It wasn't exceptional people who died for Christianity or at Smithfield or who lost their lives or their freedom in order to gain other pieces of Freedom. Still it is enormous luck to be alive just now and in this thing, really in the centre of it.

I am sure we shall win soon.

Very much my dearest to you all,


LGA (signature heavily scribbled out) No answer must be sent

Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/2/3
Dates of Creation c.19 Mar 1912
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison 'Holloway Gaol'. Tuesday (undated, but probably 19 Mar 1912). Closely written in pencil on two sides of a single sheet. Transcript:


I am longing for news of you all. This seems the longest fortnight I have ever spent but I believe the rest of the time will pass more quickly.

Day by day, it is not dreadfully dull and indeed it might be a very great deal worse. Compared to the old days when our people first came to prison, this is almost like a badly kept hotel with cold monotonous food and bells that no one answers!

There are a great many alleviations and I have been given a cell in which there is an open pane and I am among friends. We have an hour out of doors every day if it is fine and we have organised games which are 'not seen' by the authorities. The Home Office has allowed me to have some books sent in, and I have some sewing to do. I am quite well and I am eating everything and sleeping very soundly.

It is hateful being so inactive and not seeing the papers or knowing what is going on at this immensely critical time, but having accepted all that as inevitable I am using this time as a complete holiday and I think I shall come back looking very well and young. There are many very nice people in here - most of whom I did not know before. They come from all classes and represent so many different types and they are so amusingly and extraordinarily un-militant in appearance! To my immense relief Mrs Saul Solomon is kept in hospital so that I haven't brushed up against her. I think if she came into this block it wd be fair ground for application for remission of sentence, don't you?

I had faced in imagination, something infinitely harder to bear than this, although of course I knew that the physical discomforts would be a small part of the whole thing.

I am afraid that the Coal Strike is still very serious and that it must be a great difficulty to AA & Co [The family business, Anderson, Anderson & Co, which ran the Orient Line]. We are awaiting the result of tomorrow's trial with great anxiety - and also the fate of the 2nd reading of the Bill on Friday. Mrs Pankhurst has just come out of hospital into this block. She is looking frail and white but very sweet & courageous and smiling. She says that C [Christabel Pankhurst] is writing her articles and is conducting all business as usual.

I am due home on Apr 9. It wd be very nice if you could come up to me for two or three days that week or I wd come to you for the day. I think I must go to the cottage for the following Sunday.

Very much love to all of you. Please give special messages to Alan and Ivy and Aaa [LGA's brother, his wife and Helen Lorimer, who had cared for EGA's children].

I think of you all very often and especially dearest of you always very lovingly.

Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/2/4
Dates of Creation c. Mar 1912
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison. Undated. Written in pencil, folded, with 'Mother' on the outside. Transcript:


This is the most wonderful experience I have ever had. As I have to be here, I am not worrying about the long absence from work, or friends or home and I am just accepting what comes day by day. It is a wonderful mixture: of sadness and hopelessness; of joy and conviction and hope. A prison in which block after block is full of people who feel it a consecration to be in it ceases to be a prison. A new atmosphere is created. There are several people who sing well and the choruses of the Suffrage Songs and the Cavalier Songs go round the blocks when it gets too dark to read.

I have been moved into a lighter and better cell in which there is a little air. Everyone is kind to us. One can realise what a terrible experience it was for the first women who came here but they have transformed the whole place.

I am very well - indeed greatly rested. I don't mind living on bread and butter and potatoes, and people who are allowed to have food in give me scraps. I sleep for 12 hrs every night and sometimes in the day as well. I haven't had such a rest for years.

Lord Rosebery's Chatham is interesting me. Also Lawrence and Barbara's book about the condition of the Labourers before the first Reform Bill and I also have a prison book.

I thought of you all a great deal yesterday and on Saturday and I was so glad that it was fine. On Sunday morning we paced round and round a grimy brick yard with high walls on all sides and near us in another yard were the real prisoners - some with babies - they had not bad faces. It seems just a bit of good luck to come to Holloway to fight against conditions of life which are so hard for women, instead of coming here because one has been pushed under by them.

Please give my love to Alan and Ivy and Aaa.

I do hope that this letter will reach you safely and make you feel happy about us. The box of flowers came and was v. sweet.

Very much love dearest,


Louisa Garrett Anderson to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

Reference Number(s) GB 106 7LGA/1/2/5
Dates of Creation 26 Mar 1912
Physical Description 1 item

Scope and Content

Written from Holloway Prison. Written in pencil on one side of paper, folded, with the single word 'Mother' on the outside. Transcript:


At last I had one of yr letters. The Governor offered to open the others for me and to let me look at them if I gave them back to him but I refused this. Last night however the Matron brought me one unopened. I am afraid you are feeling sad and tired. It goes to my heart that this shd be so. I am thinking of little else. We must wait for another fortnight and then I will come straight to you perhaps by the 10 oc train on Tuesday morning. It is possible to do anything like this and bear the sacrifice and suffering oneself: other people suffer far more.

There are compensations to us. There is some interest in being here. It is a big experience. I can bear it for myself very well, almost contentedly, but I cannot bear yr being unhappy. I have leave to write to you today so that I will not send more now. Remember that one's not supposed to write at all and that it will not do to speak of my letters.

Ever so much love dearest. I am thinking of you all the time.