Queer Places:
Agnes Blackadder Hall, St Andrews KY16 9XW, UK

Agnes Forbes Blackadder (4 December 1875 – 12 May 1964) was a Scottish medical doctor.[1] Blackadder became the first female graduate of the University of St Andrews when she gained her M.A. degree on 29 March 1895.[2] She was the first consultant dermatologist to be appointed in 1907 at St. John's Hospital, an appointment which was also notable as one of the first appointments of a woman consultant at a hospital that was not exclusively for women.[3] During World War I, she served as a radiographer at the Scottish Women's Hospital at Royaumont in France and pioneered radiography of gangrene.[1]

Blackadder was born in Broughty Ferry, Dundee, on 4 December 1875. She was the daughter of Robert Blackadder, an architect and engineer from Dundee. She spent most of her early life around Dundee, living in Bellevue, West Ferry and attending the High School of Dundee.[1][4] After graduating, she married Dr. Thomas Dixon Savill at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Forfarshire in 1901; her husband died in 1910.[1]

Blackadder gained her M.A. degree from the University of St Andrews in 1895, becoming the first female graduate of the university. She continued her education at the University of Glasgow where she gained both MBChb (1898) and M.D. (1901).[2][5][6] Whilst in Glasgow, she won the first prize in Practical Pathology in 1896 and received First Class Certificates in Materia Medica, Surgery, Midwifery, Ophthalmology and Insanity and a Second Class Certificate in Anatomy.[1]

After graduating, Blackadder moved to London, where she became a consultant in dermatology and electro-therapeutics as well as working in radiography. She became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1904 and was appointed as a consultant for St. John's Hospital for Skin Diseases and the South London Hospital for Women and Children.[1] In 1912 Blackadder was one of three doctors who studied the effects of force-feeding on suffragists who went on hunger strikes during their imprisonment, and published medical papers on the subject.[7] During World War I, Blackadder served as a radiographer at the Scottish Women's Hospital at Royaumont, France, returning to her position in London whenever there was a lull in the fighting.[2] She used a state-of-the-art X-ray car which the hospital had been given, and used this to understand and alleviate the effects of gas gangrene through prompt diagnosis and treatment.[1] While serving at Royaumont, Blackadder borrowed a pianola from Paris and installed it at the hospital. She noticed that both patients and staff benefited from playing it and listening to it and she later wrote a book about the importance of music to well-being. The book, Music, Health and Character, was published in 1923. It led to the establishment of the Council for Music in Hospitals.[1] After the war, Blackadder returned to London and continued to practice medicine. She edited her husband's textbook, Savill's System of Clinical Medicine, which she completed in 1942. She also became interested in ancient history and in 1955 she published Alexander the Great and his Times.[1] Blackadder died in London on 12 May 1964.[1]

In October 2012 students of the University of St Andrews voted to honour Blackadder by renaming the university's largest hall of residence Agnes Blackadder Hall. The hall is the first student hall at St Andrews to be named after a woman.[8]


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