Laura Margaret Hope

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Laura Margaret Hope MBBS (née Fowler) (3 May 1868 – 14 September 1952) was the first woman to graduate in medicine and surgery at the University of Adelaide and Australia's first woman surgeon.[1]

Early life[edit]

Laura Margaret Fowler was born in the Adelaide suburb of Mitcham, South Australia to Scottish born parents George Swan Fowler and Catherine Janet Lamb. As a child, she helped her father, a successful wholesale grocer, to breed leeches for sale to pharmacists on the family's estate in Glen Osmond.[2]


Fowler was educated privately, initially attending Madame Marval's private school in Adelaide as well as schools in England while her brother attended Cambridge University. The family returned to Adelaide in 1884 and Fowler matriculated in 1886.[1]

In 1887 Fowler became the first woman to enroll in medicine at the University of Adelaide. She was awarded the Elder Prize and graduated in Medicine and Surgery in 1891.[1]


Fowler was appointed the House Surgeon at the Adelaide Children's Hospital where she worked until her marriage in 1893 to fellow doctor Charles Henry Standish Hope.[1]

Following their marriage, Laura and Charles Hope spent many years working on missions in India, particularly in Bengal where they would spend 30 years providing medical assistance to the local community.[1] The couple frequently treated cases of typhoid, cholera and malaria and Charles became well known for his expertise in performing eye surgery.[2]

In 1915 the Hopes served in World War I as doctors in the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service (as the Australian Army would not enlist female doctors, only female nurses).[2] The Hopes treated wounded soldiers in Serbia where they were captured and imprisoned in Hungary for two months. Following a period of respite in England, they returned to India and their mission efforts in 1916. Both were awarded the Serbian Samaritan Cross in 1918.[2]

Laura Hope was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind medal shortly before she and her husband retired to Adelaide in 1934.


Hope died on 14 September 1952 and had no children.[2] Her husband had predeceased her in 1942.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Adelaide pioneers: Laura Fowler - our first woman medical graduate". Lumen. The University of Adelaide. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e Jones, Helen. "Hope, Laura Margaret". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Clare News In Victor". Northern Argus. LXXIII, (4, 750). South Australia. 25 September 1942. p. 6. Retrieved 16 May 2018 – via National Library of Australia.