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Dame Mary Scharlieb's MD gown, hood, bonnet and square hat, London, England, after 1902

Dame Mary Scharlieb (1845-1930) was a pioneering female physician. Born in Britain, she moved to India after marrying in 1865. She became concerned to help local women in obstetrics, perhaps inspired by the fact that her mother had died ten days after her birth. She became one of the first women to study at Madras Medical College. She returned to England and in 1882 was one of the first two women to be awarded a degree in medicine at London University. She passed with honours in all subjects and was awarded the Gold Medal and the Scholarship in Obstetrics. She also had an audience with Queen Victoria. In 1888 Dr Scharlieb became the first woman to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine. She was also awarded the degree of Master of Surgery, in 1897. Seen here are her MD robes. They include a scarlet gown and hood trimmed with violet silk and both the mortar-board commonly worn and the round bonnet more properly specified for this dress. The set was made by the London robemakers Ede, Son and Ravenscroft, a firm that traded under that name from 1902 to 1921. Dr Scharlieb was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1926.

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Glossary: academic robe

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Glossary: Academic graduation

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