Women’s rights in Europe throughout the nineteenth-century were an intense subject that took views in political, social, and private forms. One of the pioneering women of this time, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, spent most of her life employing some of the most important duties that women had so longed for throughout this time. She furthered her education, had a profound career in medicine, and raised a family—all while being an active supporter of the women’s suffrage movement. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson helped shape the image that women could hold prominent careers, be active members among society, and keep a household running.
Elizabeth Garrett was born in 1836 to Mr. Newson Garret and Mrs. Louisa Dunnell from Leiston, Suffolk. At the time of Garrett’s birth women were fighting for the freedom and rights of their sex. The view of young girls at this time was a heavy debate that left them with much scrutiny and exile to the outside world. Women were seen as prisoners of the home, where they were to obey that of their fathers and eventually their husbands. The education of women was a heavy debate, where many thought that women were to learn only the academics that would help them to become worthy mothers and wives. While young boys were likely to attend public schools and in some cases continue on to universities, girls were left to stay at home to learn to be a good house maid. Aside from women’s lack of and allowance of education, women were also fighting for legal rights as well as fair pay.
The Garrett family was a large one, comprising of ten children, six girls and four boys. While the family was expanding they moved to Aldeburgh, where Mr. Garrett became a prominent businessman, somewhat setting the stage for the success of his children. Mr. Garrett, although not well educated, surly put his stamp on Aldeburgh. He worked conducting and constructing maltings up the River Alde at Snape, owned a convoy of sailing barges, founded gas works, partnered in a brewery, was involved in architecture, and served as Justice for the Peace, all while having an active role in his wife and children’s lives. Mr. Garrett was atypical of the type of father in the nineteenth-century. He ventured his business career while being involved in the home aspect of life in every way possible. Mrs. Garrett was an educated, well-mannered, religious woman. She was treated as an equal part by her husband, and loved and respected by her children.
Mr. Garrett prided himself on treating his children equally. Although the social norms of this time did not permit it, Mr. Garrett felt that equal education and opportunity among his children was essential and important no matter if they were boys or girls. The Garretts’ had a governess to start their children’s early education. Elizabeth Garrett and her sister Louie were later sent to the “Academy for the Daughters of Gentleman” at Blackheath, a boarding school for girls. The two sisters were called the “bathing Garretts”...