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The daughter of a minister of the Anglican church, Edith pioneered medical education for women in England; in 1869 she was admitted, along with Sophia Jex-Blake and others, to Edinburgh University, where she won the Chemistry prize in her first year. As was to happen with Cornelia Sorabji (q.v.) she was denied this prize and the Hope scholarship because she was a woman. Edinburgh would not let her qualify in medicine so she transferred to Bern University; she and Sophia got their licences from the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1877.

In 1883 she came to India through the Medical Women for India Fund, and became director of the Cama Hospital, then just established. She campaigned for improved health facilities for Indian women and tried to raise consciousness of the dangers to health of child marriages. She married the Fund’s secretary, Herbert Phipson, learnt Hindi and set up a school to teach nursing to the women of Mumbai. In 1881 she became the first woman elected to the Senate of the University of Bombay; she was also a member of the Asiatic Society. When plague broke out in 1899, she helped fight it. She left India in 1905, returning later to endow the Pechey-Phipson Sanatorium for Women and Children near Nasik.
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