The little girl at the Royal Academy

The girl with her parents at the Royal Academy in Chapter 31, who is admiring Ziyaeddin’s painting of Libby, is meant to be Louisa Dunnell. Years later Louisa became the mother of Elizabeth Garrett. In 1873, Garrett was the first woman in Britain to win the battle to qualify as a physician and surgeon — as a woman. Garrett went on to become the first dean of a British medical school, among other notable firsts.

Louisa’s attendance at the exhibition is purely my invention. But extraordinary women often learn to fight for their rights from other extraordinary women — mothers, sisters, friends, strangers — and I couldn’t resist.

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