Partner Christine Murrell
21 North Gate, Prince Albert Rd, St John's Wood, London NW8 7EL, UK
Four Winds, Old Guildford Rd, Frimley Green, Camberley GU16 6PG, UK
Elizabeth Honor Bone (1874 – July 9, 1950) was an ideal family physician. She was a very small person with the quiet gravity which was always reassuring to children. She paid meticulous attention to detail both in diagnosis and treatment, and many of her old patients recall the good years when she ruled the health of their growing families. She had perfected the use of her senses in eliciting physical signs to an unusual extent and had a great gift for training her assistants.
Dr Christine Murrell joined forces with her ‘beloved friend and colleague’ Dr Honor Bone early in her professional life and lived with her for over 30 years, the last of these spent in a ménage à trois with Marie Lawson, a printer, editor and tax resister. Murrell and Bone worked in general practice together in West London; Murrell, who also used the forename ‘Christopher’, ran one of the first infant welfare clinics, clinics, helped with the aftercare of imprisoned suffragettes and became the first woman elected to the Council of the British Medical Association in 1924 and to the General Medical Council in 1933.
Christopher St. John had a dual dedication, to Honor Bone and Marie Lawson, in her biography Christine Murrell M.D. (1935). Written at the request of Honor Bone, Christine Murrell's lover, the book acknowledge the fact that Murrell lived with two women, both of whom had loving significance for her. By 1925 all three women were able to move into a house which Murrell had herself designed, The Four Winds, Frimley Green, near Aldershot. In 1930, the triple domestic partnership was extended to London, where Murrell and Bone were already living together. After Murrell's death, Bone was still living at Four Winds in 1941, but Marie Lawson, although in regular and fond contact with her, was no longer living with her.
Elizabeth Honor Bone was the second of three daughters of William John Bone, manager of the Tyne Iron Shipbuilding Company; the girls were brought up on Tyneside and eventually sent to school in Edinburgh. Later she studied medicine at the Royal Free Hospital and London School of Medicine for Women. She graduated KB., B.S. in 1898, and proceeded M.D. in 1905. While a student she met Dr. Christine Murrell, and together they planned to equip themselves to start general practice in the West End of London in a professional and well-to-do district. Graduates from the school were already established in many varieties of consultant practice, but women general practitioners had usually settled in industrial and working-class districts, so that the plan was something of an innovation for women at the turn of the XIX century. Dr. Bone went to Vienna and Berlin after qualifying, and then took an appointment as medical officer to the Women's Settlement in Liverpool. Here, while practising in the dock areas, she worked with Sir Robert Jones. This contact influenced her outlook in practice very greatly. The partnership planned by Dr. Bone and Dr. Murrell began in 1903 in Bayswater (the first year's takings amounting to £87). The practice grew rapidly and was well established by the beginning of the first world war. Third, fourth, and fifth partners were taken on. Dr. Bone was a part-time school medical officer under the L.C.C. for some years and was one of the original medical officers at the North Kensington Baby Clinic before infant-welfare centres were established. Here she had full opportunity for the constructive paediatric work that was dearest to her. Her small stature and her wish for a quiet life with no public appearance of any sort were in striking contrast to the imposing figure and full public activity of her partner, Christine Murrell, but the association of these two doctors in practice for 30 years had the happiness which so often results from wide dissimilarities.
Elizabeth Honor Bone died at her home in Hampshire on July 9, 1950 at the age of 75. Owing to ill-health she had led a quiet life since her retirement from general practice in 1935.
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