Posted by Lou. The time is 5.05pm here in London, UK.

The UK National Lottery has released a list of 50 Unsung British Heroes. Six of them are women - six! - and no women appear in the Top 10 despite friggin' Baldrick - Baldrick! The fictional character from Blackadder! - reaching the #6 spot. Surely when considering unsung heroes those that missed the recognition they deserved because of their gender and/or race would be the first people to investigate?!

Well, I shall focus on one of the heroines - this woman sounds spectacularly interesting! Why is there not a legend? A Hollywood film? Why do we not know about her?

Via BBC online:

It was only when the distinguished doctor James Barry died of dysentery in 1865 that it was discovered "he" was in fact a woman called Mary Ann Bulkley.

According to the Science Museum, Bulkley saw very few career choices as a woman, so she hatched a plan in which she would become James Barry. After graduating from medical school in Edinburgh, she worked at St Thomas' Hospital, London, before joining the Army.

A successful career as a surgeon followed, in India and South Africa, and she eventually rose to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals.
Her methods of nursing sick and wounded soldiers from the Crimea meant she had the highest recovery rate of the whole war, and she also performed one of the first successful Caesarean sections, in 1826.

Apparently a Dutch filmmaker is making a feature about her - let's hope that and this dumb list combine to give her some of the recognition and attention she (and so many other forgotten heroines) deserve.

[I've chosen not to link to the list so as not to give it the attention it doesn't deserve]

4 thoughts on “Heroines”

  1. Um, Lou. I draw your attention to this article:

    Tragic star to play a legend of medicine

    which I actually drew your attention to on 23rd Sept on this year (check gmail, biaarrrche).

    In a poignant piece of casting, the British film star Natascha McElhone is to play a pioneering British doctor, just months after the sudden death of her husband, the groundbreaking surgeon Martin Kelly. The actress is to star in a screen version of the remarkable life of James Miranda Barry, who in 1812, while disguised as a man, became the first woman to graduate as a British doctor. Barry became the first UK surgeon to perform a successful Caesarean section, saving both mother and baby.

    An Oscar-winning FEMALE director is attached. She won in the Foreign Film category, remember? We were all like 'oh so they do recognise women have talent... if they're from quite far away'.