Marie Carmichael Stopes


Biography of Marie Carmichael Stopes

Marie Carmichael Stopes (15 October 1880 – 2 October 1958) was a British author, palaeobotanist, campaigner for women's rights and pioneer in the field of birth control. She was the wife of Humphrey Verdon Roe, with whom she founded the first birth control clinic in Britain. Stopes edited the newsletter Birth Control News which gave explicit practical advice. Her sex manual Married Love, which she wrote while legally a virgin, was controversial and influential, while her book, Wise Parenthood, was written before she'd become a parent. She was never in favour of abortion, arguing that prevention of conception was sufficient.

Marie was born in Edinburgh, the daughter of Henry Stopes, a brewer, engineer, architect and palaeontologist and the Shakespeare scholar and women's rights campaigner Charlotte Carmichael Stopes. Both her parents were members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science—where they had met—and Marie was brought to meetings where she met the famous scholars of the day. She was at first home schooled, then from 1892 to 1894 she attended St. George's School in Edinburgh. Stopes was later sent to the North London Collegiate School, where she was a close friend of Olga Fröbe-Kapteyn.

She attended University College London as a scholarship student studying botany and geology, graduating with a first class B.Sc. in 1902 after only two years by attending both day and night school. Following this, Stopes earned a D.Sc. degree from University College London, becoming the youngest person in Britain to have done so. In 1903 she published a study of the botany of the recently dried-up Ebbsfleet River. After carrying out research at University College London, she pursued further study at the University of Munich, receiving a Ph.D. in palaeobotany in 1904. She was also Fellow and sometime Lecturer in Palaeobotany at University College London and Lecturer in Palaeobotany at the University of Manchester (she held the post at Manchester from 1904 to 1907; in this capacity she became the first female academic of the University of Manchester).

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