Inspiring Ladies
As the Aletheian Society blunder about Victorian Britain, one of the tremendous pleasures we have is identifying real world people for them to run into - and Edinburgh in the early 1870s seem particularly packed with fascinating individuals for us to shoehorn into our plots. You'll meet one of those people in Episode 2 - so go and listen to that first before you read on...

...Done? Excellent. I'm referring, of course, to Isabel Thorne, one of the Edinburgh Seven - a pioneering group of women who convinced Edinburgh University to let them study medicine, characterised by their remarkable ability and perseverance.  They met with tremendous opposition from their fellow medical students, the staff and the wider population of Edinburgh- but despite being assaulted, threatened and harassed, all seven consistently excelled academically and passed their final exams with flying colours, only to be told that they should never have been admitted in the first place, and denied their degree. 

As the first group of female undergraduates in Britain, these inspiring ladies laid the foundations for equal access to higher education in a time when only a few years before it would have been unthinkable. In 1876, an act of parliament made it possible for women to study medicine in British Universities - just four years after Sophia and Isabel meet in Edinburgh. Several of the seven went on to obtain medical qualifications in other Universities - Isabel Thorne never did, but instead was instrumental in establishing the London School of Medicine for Women, where her daughter trained and became a surgeon.

You can never really hope to do your heroes justice in a fictional setting - but I hope that Isabel Thorne wouldn't have been too outraged by the version of her that appears in our story. Fictional Isabel's courage, intelligence and wit are inspired by her real-life achievements - any flaws and inaccuracies are naturally the fault of the writers. 

Become a patron to

Unlock 28 exclusive posts
Listen anywhere
Connect via private message