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Helen Mary Wilson

(1864-1951), Physician and social campaigner

Sitter in 1 portrait
Born into a politically radical family, Wilson was able to use her experience as a physician to support her campaigns concerning women's rights and laws relating to prostitution. After studying at the London School of Medicine, Wilson was house surgeon at the London Temperance Hospital, before working in private practices in Sheffield. In 1905, she retired and became the secretary of the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene and editor of its journal The Shield. Her attitudes towards prostitution were progressive and like her father, she campaigned against its state regulation. In 1909 she became the president of the Sheffield Women's Suffrage Society, although she did not agree with the militant tactics of the suffragettes.

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Helen Mary Wilson, by Elliott & Fry - NPG x181915

Helen Mary Wilson

by Elliott & Fry
half-plate glass copy negative, 1942
NPG x181915

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Penny Rea

25 November 2015, 10:17

Helen Mary Wilson (1864-1951) was born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. She was the daughter of Henry J Wilson (1833-1914), MP for Holmfirth, and Charlotte Cowan. Helen was educated at Sheffield High School for Girls, Bedford College London and the London School of Medicine for Women. She became House Surgeon to the London Temperance Hospital in 1892 and then entered private practice in Sheffield where she worked from 1893-1906. In addition to her medical career, Helen Wilson carried on her father's campaigning work against the state regulation of prostitution and was Honorary Secretary and President of the Association for Moral & Social Hygiene. Her other voluntary activities included settlement and probation work and serving as a JP. In addition, Helen Wilson was President of the Sheffield Women's Suffrage Society, which was a branch of the North of England Suffrage Society.