Isabella Clarke (later Clarke-Keer) was one of the two first female members of the Pharmaceutical Society, and the first President of the Association of Women Pharmacists.
Isabella Skinner Clarke registered with the Society as a Chemist and Druggist on 22nd April 1875. She became a Pharmaceutical Chemist by passing the Major exam on 15th December 1875. Shortly afterwards she established her own business at Spring Street, Paddington, London. She took female medical students for their dispensing course at her pharmacy. This then led to her being appointed as tutor in pharmacy at the ‘Royal Free’ School of Medicine for Women. It was not until 1879 that she was elected as a member of the Pharmaceutical Society.
In 1883, she married Thomas Keer, whom she had met when they were both students at Muter’s School of Pharmacy in Clapham. After her marriage, she gave up the Spring Street business and became her husband’s partner in a pharmacy in Bruton Street, Berkeley Square.
She later started a Home for Students at their home in Endsleigh Street. It was at her home here that the first meeting of the Association of Women Pharmacists was held. She was apparently a reluctant first President of the Association: Margaret Buchanan wrote “with some difficulty we persuaded Mrs Keer.” Many of the Association’s early meetings were held in the Keers’ dining room.
After her husband’s death in 1898, she ran a shorthand and typewriting business in Victoria Street , Westminster. During the First World War, she worked daily at the Admiralty, even though she was over 70 years old.
She died in Croydon on July 30th 1926, aged 84.
Image above: Isabella Clarke-Keer