Miss Blunt

Eleanor.jpg
Dorothea’s bookplate?

Miss Blunt Almost certainly Dr Eleanor Dorothea Blunt, 31, (1901-1950) M.B., B. S. Lond. 1927, D.Obstr. R.C.O.G, surgeon. While we don’t have a photograph as yet her monogram art deco bookplate, now held in the Los Angeles Public Library collection, is rather attractive though there could be another person of the same name.

puzzle-piece2-50Do you know more about Dorothea? Are there other candidates? While having four medics helps to make the case stronger, we don’t know they were all medics at this table? Do you have a picture of Dorothea? Did she have an interest in art deco design, as in her book plate? Or a large book collection?

SEATED BESIDE

It hardly matters on a table of four: I would have paired them by age group: Misses Campbell and Solomon, in their mid 50s, Misses Blunt and Gross in their 30s. And if Dorothea was beside Dame Janet Campbell they could have shred views on their alma maters the London School of Medicine for Women and the Royal Free Hospital.

WHAT’S ON HER MIND?

We don’t have much to go on, but we can imagine that those who knew each other, catching up on the latest news, and for those who were not yet acquainted, a chance to meet another woman pioneering in the medical world of the 1930s. She may well have been looking for the opportunity to meet other leading medics of the day, such as fellow R.C.O.G. member Dr Louisa Martindale.

DOROTHEA’S STORY SO FAR

Dorothea was born in Oxford on 14th October 1901, the eldest daughter of Kent farmer’s daughter Jane Weston and Christ Church, Oxford Tutor and Librarian Herbert William Blunt, (29.1.1864 – 26.5.1940). At the time of the census on 2nd April 1911 we find the family a little scattered: father in Ely (the place of his birth), Dorothea, with her mother and younger sister Phyllis Mary, boarding with a family in Benenden (the place of her mother’s birth) and brother Henry Pyot boarding with his unmarried farmer uncle and two unmarried aunts, also in Benenden. The father was still listed Woodstock Road as his address so perhaps this was a temporary family distribution.

Dorothea attended Oxford High and the London School of Medicine for Women. She served as a Temporary Assistant Medical Officer, Maternity and Child Welfare Office in Birmingham, as Obstetrician and Gynaecologist House Surgeon at the Royal Free Hospital, London, House Surgeon, Louth London Hospital, and Case Officer and House Surgeon at the Ear Nose and Throat Dept., of the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. In 1924 and 1925 she was living at 15/16 Brunswick Square, Bloomsbury, most likely one of the ladies hostels on the square – Dorothea’s 14 other co-residents were all unmarried women except for Mr and Mrs Fred Brooker, probably the caretakers/wardens (the area is now the modernist residential, shopping and cinema development Brunswick alongside Coram’s Fields). At No. 20. the residential Minerva Club, a club, was established by Dr Elizabeth Knight and the Women’s Freedom League in 1920.[1]

The Royal Free Hospital has been important for women. It was founded in 1828 to provide free healthcare to those who could not afford medical treatment. The title ‘Royal’ was granted by Queen Victoria in 1837 in recognition of the hospital’s work with cholera patients. For many years, the Royal Free Hospital was the only hospital in London to offer medical training to women. This began a close association with the London School of Medicine for Women (where Janet Campbell also trained some 20 years earlier), later renamed the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine.[2]

Dorothea was a member of the BMA and the Medical Women’s Federation and lived at Oxford (1930, 247 Woodstock Road) and at 12 White Rock, Hastings.[3]

Blunt article
Dorothea’s entry in the 1942 Medical Directory, from the Wellcome Library

The year before the dinner we know that she travelled to Tangier, with her sister Phyllis, who was a secretary. Their older brother, Henry Pyot Blunt, who became a reservist in August 1918, had married in 1928 (when “a gentleman” at a private boys school, Upper Canada College, Ontario) and died in 1955 when living in Enfield, North London.

WHAT DOROTHEA DID NEXT

At the time of the dinner both her parents were alive but her mother died on 11th February 1935 and in 1939 Dorothea was living (for the census at least) with her widowed father at White Rock, Hastings. In the same year she again travelled to North Africa, to Casablanca. Her sister had married in 1934.

In 1937 Dorothea became a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – on whose Council Dr Louisa Martindale, Table 10, was elected, only the second woman, in 1934,. In 1938 Dorothea contributed a “Clinical memorandum” on “an unusual case of hydramnios”- that’s excess amniotic fluid during pregnancy – to the British Medical Journal. She was a Divisional Surgeon of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade from at least 1942 and was appointed as a serving sister of the Hospital of St John and Jerusalem in June 1949.[4] [5]

Dorothea’s father died on 26th May 1940 leaving probate to her. She herself died on 1st November 1950, then living at Black Mill, 107 Middle Road, Ore, Hastings, her probate assigned to her sister’s solicitor.[6]

BACK TO TABLE 16


[1] Elizabeth Crawford, The Minerva Club, The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928Routledge, 2003, page 125 accessed online 23.2.2019 

[2] Royal Free Hospital Website, accessed 23.2.2019 

[3] Source: correspondence from Angela V John. Women’s Who’s Who 1934 – 35.

[4] The London Gazette, 24.6.1949 p3133 

[5] Blunt, Eleanor Dorothea, 1942 Medical Directory, from the Wellcome Library

[6] Death Notice Dr Blunt, British Medical Journal, 11.11.1950, p1125

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