Dame Beulah Bewley was the first woman to graduate with an MSc in Social Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a leader of research into the effects of smoking in children and young people; research that she started at the School. She went on to become President of the Medical Women’s Federation and Treasurer at the General Medical Council.
Her memoir “My Life as a Woman and a Doctor” is a fascinating view of a career in medicine and public health when it was very much a man’s world. Beulah, who was the only woman in her 1969 class at the School and then returned as a Senior Lecturer in 1983, takes you on a journey through her life from making the decision she would be a doctor at age 5, to retiring in 1994. She delivers a range of stories of career and family in a funny, straight talking manner.
In the extract below, Beulah talks about advice she received from Jerry Morris, and imparts some of her own advice.
“Wednesdays were our highlight, because Jerry invited visitors to discuss important topics. We had to do our homework ready to present first thing in the morning and then he had all these
important people for our lectures in the afternoon. Jerry knew everybody, and everybody knew Jerry; they were all his friends. We had Baroness Wooton, Peter Townsend, and Brian Abel-Smith: you name them, they were all there. Jerry was important as a role model in many ways. One particular thing he advised: “Always read the leading article of a quality newspaper.” So I read The Times every day as a result. I always read the letters beside the leader, because it is essential to keep up-to-date if you are going to be any good as a community physician or are in public health medicine.”
You can purchase Beulah’s memoir on Amazon and read more about her life, her time at the School, and find out why she attended her interview for the School in a straitjacket!