Alice Vickery

Alice Vickery was the first woman to qualify as a Chemist and Druggist by passing the Society’s Minor exam on 18 June 1873. She remained on the Register until 1914.

Vickery was born in Devon in 1844, but had moved to London by 1861. She began her medical career in 1869 at the Ladies' Medical College. She trained as a midwife and qualified in 1873. She met Charles Drysdale, her companion and co-worker, at the College. Both objected to the institution of marriage and they were never married.

Since no British medical schools admitted women, Vickery went to France in 1873 to study medicine at the University of Paris. She returned to London to complete her training at the London Medical School for Women in 1877.

Following an obscenity trial surrounding the publication of a contraceptive handbook, The Fruits of Philosophy (1877), Vickery became active in the formation of the Malthusian League which promoted birth control. However, because the London Medical School for Women objected to her activities, she withdrew from public association with the League until she obtained her medical qualification in 1880.

Once qualified, Vickery practised as a doctor. Throughout the 1880s she also gave frequent lectures promoting birth control as an essential element for the emancipation of women. She was also active in the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts.

In the 1890s Vickery became involved with the Legitimation League which was established to protest against the legal penalties borne by the illegitimate children. She also joined the National Society for Women's Suffrage, later moving on to the more militant Women's Social and Political Union, and then the Women's Freedom League.

After Charles Drysdale's death Alice Vickery continued her work as a doctor and for the Malthusian League. She also became an early member of the Eugenics Education Society, and was involved in divorce law reform, and the international birth control movement.

In 1923 Vickery moved to Brighton to be near her elder son. She became an active president of the Women's Freedom League local branch, and addressed a meeting only days before her death, from pneumonia, on 12 January 1929.