Mary Barkas

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Mary Barkas
Pencil headshot of Mary Barkas
Drawing of Mary Barkas in 1924
Born(1889-09-07)7 September 1889
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died17 April 1959(1959-04-17) (aged 69)
Tapu, New Zealand
NationalityNew Zealand
Years active1910s – 1932

Mary Rushton Barkas (7 September 1889 – 17 April 1959) was a psychiatrist, physician and author from New Zealand. She worked at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, where she was the first female house physician, and the Maudsley Hospital in London, United Kingdom.

Early life[edit]

Mary Rushton Barkas was born in 1889 in Christchurch, New Zealand, to Frederick Barkas, who worked at the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company, and Amy Barkas née Parker. She attended Christchurch Girls' High School and was the dux of the school in 1905.[1] She went on to study at Victoria University College in Wellington, graduating with a BSc in 1908, and an MSc in 1910, and later studied under Carl Jung at King's College London.[2][3][4] During the First World War, she studied medicine at St Mary's Hospital and the London School of Medicine for Women, graduating in 1918.[2] At the outbreak of war she was in Switzerland on a tramping trip; it took several weeks to return to London.[5] In 1922, Barkas travelled to Vienna to study for a graduate diploma, where she worked under Otto Rank.[2]


In 1919, Barkas became the first female house physician at the Bethlem Royal Hospital.[2][6] In 1923, Barkas was one of four full-time psychiatrists employed at the newly opened Maudsley Hospital, and she worked there until 1927. Her work focused upon organic psychiatry, psychoanalysis and child psychiatry, and she described the hospital as a "shelter and refuge" which offered "complete protection and satisfaction of all needs."[7][8][9] From 1928 to 1933, Barkas worked as a Medical Superintendent at The Lawn Hospital in Lincoln.[2][3] In this role, Barkas helped to reduce the expenditure of the hospital.[10]

After her father died in 1932, Barkas retired and returned to New Zealand. She moved to Tapu, and studied Chinese philosophy.[2][3][8] In 1937, she wrote the feminist book Wages for Wives, which challenged the stereotypical views of working women in New Zealand.[11] In the same year, she was one of 15 psychologists who provided references for Arthur Segal's application for a British work permit.[12]


Barkas died at Tapu near Thames on 17 April 1959,[13] and was cremated at Purewa Cemetery on 20 April,[14] although some accounts suggest she died in 1961.[2][3]


  1. ^ Macdonald, Charlotte (1991). The Book of New Zealand Women. Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books. pp. 45–46.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Mary Barkas (1889–1959)". Psychoanalytikerinnen. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Barkas, Frederick (1922–1932). "Barkas, Frederick, 1854–1932 : Barkas family scrapbooks and papers favourite". Retrieved 19 November 2016 – via National Library of New Zealand.
  4. ^ Hughes, Beryl (January 1993). Redbrick and Bluestockings: Women at Victoria, 1899–1993. Victoria University Press. p. 21. ISBN 9780864732446. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  5. ^ Tolerton, Jane (2017). Make her praises heard afar : New Zealand women overseas in World War One. Wellington, New Zealand: Booklovers Books. pp. 22–25. ISBN 978-0-473-39965-8. OCLC 1011529111.
  6. ^ Andrews, Jonathan; Briggs, Asa; Porter, Roy; Tucker, Penny; Waddington, Keir (June 2013). The History of Bethlem. Routledge. p. 620. ISBN 9781136098529. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  7. ^ Kaplan, Robert M. (October 2013). "William Dawson at the Maudsley". Australasian Psychiatry. 21 (5): 505–6. doi:10.1177/1039856213499621. PMID 24085718. S2CID 23046951. Retrieved 19 November 2016.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b Kaplan, Robert M. (1 March 2016). "Mary Barkas: a New Zealand pioneer at the Maudsley". Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine. 34 (3): 205–208. doi:10.1017/ipm.2016.10. S2CID 75259019.
  9. ^ Evans, Bonnie; Jones, Edgar (May 2012). "Organ Extracts and the Development of Psychiatry: Hormonal Treatments at the Maudsley Hospital 1923-1938". J Hist Behav Sci. 48 (3): 251–276. doi:10.1002/jhbs.21548. PMC 3594693. PMID 22644956.
  10. ^ "Cost to Patients". Lincolnshire Echo. 22 April 1932. p. 5. Retrieved 19 November 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ Macdonald, Charlotte (1993). The Vote, the Pill and the Demon Drink: A History of Feminist Writing in New Zealand, 1869–1993. Bridget Williams Books. pp. 113–114. ISBN 9780908912407. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  12. ^ Wiltshire, Imogen (January 2013). "Painting as Psychotherapy: Arthur Segal's Painting School for Professionals and Non-Professionals (1937–1944)" (PDF) (pdf). pp. 1–2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Historical Records". Registrar-General.
  14. ^ "Purewa Cemetery". Purewa Cemetery.