When the Girls’ Day School Trust (known then as the Girls Public Day School Company) proposed the opening of an undemoniational school in Shrewsbury, run by women and teaching girls, “feeling ran high in the old town of Shrewsbury in the early spring of 1885, on the question of the establishment of a public school for girls”.
Many parents objected to the idea of the mingling of pupils of different social status, and could not be persuaded that manners and character would not suffer in a school open to children of all respectable people who could pay the fees.
The Vicar of St. Mary’s, Archdeacon Lloyd, whose curates were the present Bishop of London, and Mr Abraham, who became Bishop of Derby, threw the weight of this influence against the Company, and he had a formidable party behind him. On the other side were Dr Calvert, E. Bather of the Day House, Shrewsbury, the Rev. Henry Bather, Vicar of Meole Brace, and Rev. C. Churchill and other Masters of Shrewsbury School, Sir Richard Green Price, Dr Bund, Dr Rope, Dr Eddowes, Major Coldwell, and many more, who carried the day in the end.”
From a letter by Miss Edith Cannings (the first Head of SHS), 1922, on the formation of Shrewsbury High School.
Late in 1884 a second public meeting was held in Shrewsbury to discuss the possibility of opening a new girls’ school. It was decided by a vote of 37 to 27, to ask the Girls’ Public Day School Company, rather than the Church Schools’ Company, to open a High School for girls. However, public opinion on this decision was split as many felt that scripture could not properly be taught in a non-denominational school, and a petition against the whole idea was organised. Local opposition soon died down though, and on January 7th 1885, a local newspaper reported that the new Shrewsbury High School for Girls would open later that year. The paper expressed the opinion that:
“… this attempt to improve the educational status of our county town and adjacent district will meet with the warmest sympathy and encouragement from all who value their daughters’ education and wish to see them fitted to take their place among the foremost ranks of their fellow countrywomen.”
Shrewsbury High School was opened on 5 May 1885 in Clive House on College Hill under the headship of Miss Edith Cannings (pictured), promoted from the staff of Croydon High School. Thirty-one girls were in the senior school, with nineteen juniors admitted a week later. The fees were around two pounds per term for Juniors and five pounds per term for Seniors. Local advertisements stated that the school “aims at a wide and comprehensive scope of intelligent advancement and does not risk offending individual opinions either in religious or civil policy”.
At the end of May 1885, a fire was discovered in two small rooms at the centre of Clive House. The fire was discovered by Dr Eddowes, who owned the house and contacted the police and fire brigade, who brought their hose. Sometime was lost in trying to find a hydrant, but eventually the hose was connected to the hydrants near the Admiral Benbow and Princess Street. In the meantime, buckets of water were used and much damage to the rooms was caused by both fire and water.
Miss Cannings lived in the attic rooms of Clive House, with her dog Hako, who could often be found tied up in a yard close to the window of the staffroom, to which he naturally objected with persistent barking. A long arm would be seen appearing from out the window, and a ‘hush, hush, Hako’, which gradually became a proverbial saying in the staffroom.
Shrewsbury High School staff, 1887, left.
In December of 1885 the school’s first concert for pupils, parents and friends of the High School was held at the Music Hall. There was a very large attendance to listen to a selection of part songs and recitations. The programme included the part song, “Ever Joyous”, the carol, “King Wenceslas” and the recitation, “Quarrelsome Kittens”. According to a newspaper report, “the audience showed their appreciation by loud applause. Much interest, not to say amusement, was occasioned by the performances of the younger scholars, some of whom, despite their tender years, showed an aptitude for learning.” (Eddowes Journal, 1885)
The growing school soon demanded more space and in 1886 the new ‘Iron House’, less respectfully known as ‘The Tin Tabernacle’ was temporarily erected in the grounds of Clive House and opened by the Bishop of Lichfield. Many visitors attended the opening and assembled on the lawn where the orchestra was erected. In his address, the Bishop of Lichfield stated that: “all could not expect to excel in cleverness. There were dull children, and for his part he loved a dull child. A flower was quick in growth and developed beauty early; the oak was slow in arriving at maturity, but was the emblem of quiet strength. So a dull child might be slowly growing in knowledge and laying up strength for a grand future.” (Eddowes Journal, August 1886) The Rev. Bather also addressed the attendees and spoke about the social effects of the High School system in “bringing together girls on an equal footing, personal merit being the only road to success in this school, which was so conducted as to render favouritism or cliqueism impossible.” (Eddowes Journal, August 1886)
Unfortunately, the Iron House was “cold in winter and stuffy in summer” but was used for prayers, dance, singing lessons and assembly. The girls were always delighted when there was heavy rain, “for the pattering on the roof deadened every other sound.” Between this building and the house, the garden was asphalted for rounders, tennis, drill and calisthenics.
The annual Prize Distribution was held in November 1887 at the Music Hall with Lord Aberdare presiding. There was an “unusually large attendance” to whom Lord Aberdare’s speech reflected on the establishment of high schools for girls throughout the country, referring to the great benefit they were conferring upon the rising generation. He referred in highly complementary terms to the management of the school and expressed the Council’s appreciation of “Miss Canning’s admirable qualities and of the fruitful results of her efficient teaching, the percentage of passes being exceptionally high.” Archdeacon Lloyd, in a brief address, observed that he had at first his doubts as to the advisability of establishing a High School in town, and opposed the scheme, but he thought the best proof of this animosity having long since died away was the fact that he was that day standing on the same platform as Sir R. D. Green-Price, who from the outset was a strong advocate of the cause.
After the speeches, prizes and certificates were presented, “the delighted recipients of the well-earned rewards were warmly applauded on stepping forward to receive the fruits of their labours, and the cheering increased on it being announced that scholarships [to university] had been taken by Miss Lilla Scott and Miss Nellie Thomas.” The concert afterwards included the part song, “The Waterfall” which was “rendered in spirited fashion.” (Eddowes Journal, 1887)
A precursor to the modern sports days started in May 1888, when Form III arranged a day of athletics that included high jump, long jump, three-legged races, egg and spoon races, “throwing the cricket ball”, and tug of war. This year also saw the introduction of Swedish Drill classes.
At the school Speech Day in 1893, headmistress Miss Gavin proudly reported that there were three High School girls studying at Newnham College, University of Cambridge (Nellie Thomas, Anne Woodall, Agatha Kittermaster).
With more than a hundred girls at the school in 1895, even more space was needed. Murivance House on Town Walls was purchased in 1896 and in October the foundation was laid for the new school building. In 1897 the whole school, now 105 pupils, transferred from Clive House to the new building on Murivance, which had cost in excess of nine thousand pounds to build.
On January 19th 1898, H.R.H. Princess Louise (daughter of Queen Victoria and Patron of The Girls’ Public Day School Company) performed the opening ceremony of the “new and handsome premises” of Shrewsbury High School, which has been located on Town Walls ever since. The school’s first open day was held in the November of 1898 when over seven hundred visitors came to see it.
A very wide range of subjects were offered from the start including French, German, Latin, Greek, English, History, Natural History, Botany and Divinity and ’drill’. Academic subjects were studied in the morning and after lunch, girls could do drawing, needlework, dancing and singing. Mathematics was added to the timetable in 1886, Geology in 1892, Chemistry in 1895, and Physics and Biology in 1900.
Subjects for the Kindergarten pupils sound rather more intriguing: Word Songs, Mats, Tablets, Stick-laying, Paper-folding, Button-laying and Paper-Twisting.
The first boarding house was opened in Whitehall Street in 1903 under Mrs Denne and was transferred to Holly House in 1915.
In 1905, Miss Wise said that girls were “in grave danger of weakening mental and moral fibre” by giving up Latin. Just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it should be given up; “it was one of the best things about a High School training that the girls were taught to tackle a difficult piece of work.”
The Swedish Drill classes had developed into an annual gymnastics display by 1912.
During the summer term of 1915 the school entertained wounded soldiers from different hospitals. Students also staged a concert in aid of the British Prisoners of War Fund.
The 1916 school magazine reports that many old girls were doing gallant service for the Red Cross and St John’s hospitals in Shrewsbury. Old girls were also working for the French Red Cross at Arc-en-Barrois, the Anglo-Belge Hospital in Rouen, the British Red Cross Hospital in Rouen and at the War Office. Elsie Pritchard was involved in starting the Organisation of Women’s Labour on Anglesey.
During that year all monies which would normally have gone on school prizes, went sent instead to the YMCA for upkeep of a recreation hut for soldiers. A concert in aid of the Local Belgian Relief Fund was also organised. School charities made blankets and handkerchiefs for Belgian hospitals; socks and mittens were made and sent to Shropshire battalions and jam to sailors.
A county competition was launched for essays on agricultural work for women during the war. One of the winners was High School pupil Eilidh Hay-Forbes with her essay entitled “A Schoolgirl’s Appeal to the Women of England”, which was published in the Journal of the Board of Agriculture.
“No longer is it true that ‘men must work and women must weep’, all must put their shoulders to the wheel and answer the country’s call in this her hour of need. Women of England! Here lies your great opportunity, which may not come again. For years you have claimed equal rights with men, show now that you are worthy of them and can fill a man’s place!
All can do their share; none are too weak or too small to take their part in the maintenance of the nation’s food supply. And who shall say that in the consciousness of helping others and in the quiet simple life lived very close to nature, our anxious hearts shall not be lightened and the burden of grief lifted from many a laden soul, so that we shall look forward in calm confidence to the time when victory shall crown our efforts and peace once more reign on the earth?”
The influenza outbreak of 1918 saw the school temporarily close from October 29th to November 18th.
In 1920 Cyngfeld in Kingsland was bought for boarders; there were twenty-six boarders at the time with Mrs Smylie in charge until 1929.
In 1924 a new art studio was built in the grounds.
1927 saw the first recipient of George Hallam’s triennial university scholarship. The Duchess of Atholl attended Speech Day that year and in a letter to Miss Gale afterwards commented that, “I have never enjoyed a school performance more than the one your girls gave us.”
The Duchess of Atholl’s speech also referred to the High School being formed by the G.P.D.S.T and that it was not until the formation of the Trust in the early 1870s that any wide provision for girls’ secondary education had been attempted. Having been at a girls’ high school herself, she had a real sense of the value of the education that the Trust schools had been giving to girls. She added that the founders of the Trust felt that girls should be given a chance of doing honest work. The avenues of work opened up to them were infinitely more numerous now. There was medicine, law, the civil service, and none of them could be entered without real thorough hard work. She thought, therefore, that girls at Trust schools had established their claim to be able to do as thoroughly and conscientious work as the men.
In 1929 the school was visited by Mrs Salmon, the great-niece of Florence Nightingale. During the spring term, Mr T. P. Blunt of 28 Town Walls, died. The log book notes that he will be much missed as his ‘kind and courteous personality made him many friends on the staff and elsewhere.’ He regularly judged the school’s annual Flower Show,
1930 saw the death of Miss Julyan, who had spent twenty-three years as the High School’s Second Mistress. In 1906 she was one of the first women to sit and obtain the Archbishop’s Diploma in Theology and she also taught at St Michael’s Sunday School in Shrewsbury.
In 1931 the school acquired Hampden House and other land next to the school for the new junior school (now the art block).
1932 Death of George Hallam
1933 saw the levelling of Poplars Cottage, a small house on the school grounds, so the land could be adapted for use as a hockey field.
The School continued to expand, and 1935 marked the school’s Golden Jubilee, the retirement of the headmistress, Miss Gale, and the building of a library. In the panelled bay of the window is carved the following inscription: “This library was the gift of staff and pupils, past and present, and of many friends of Shrewsbury High School to commemorate the Jubilee of the School: 1885-1935 and the headmistress-ship of Miss Gale 1907-1935.” The editorial in the school magazine for 1935 records the following: “Its furniture will include two low ‘fireside’ chairs” kindly presented by Mrs Hallam, in memory of our dear and generous old friend of many years standing, Mr George Hallam, and these will have an inscription to this effect carved on the back. These ‘fireside’ still reside in what is now called the ‘Old Library’.
The school was also sent a telegram from Princess Louise on account of the school’s Jubilee and her fond memories of opening the new building in 1898.
In September 1939 over two hundred girls arrived by train from the Trust schools on Merseyside (Birkenhead and Belvedere). The senior girls were billeted with parents and friends of the school, whilst the juniors were both taught and lived at Yeaton Peverey, Bomere Heath, which had been placed at the disposal of the Trust by Sir Offley Wakeman. The seniors were taught on a two-shift system, with Shrewsbury girls having lessons in the morning and the Merseyside students in the afternoon. By spring term most pupils had returned to Merseyside as adequate provision in the way of air-raid shelters had now been provided.
The summer term of 1940 saw staff and students asked to undertake some map numbering for the Salop War Agricultural Executive Committee in connection with the National Survey of France. During the summer holidays many staff and senior girls worked as VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurses at Royal Salop Infirmary. Others did canteen work, map work for the Agricultural Office and farm work.
Autumn of 1940 saw a collection for the Refugee Fund, whilst a party of senior girls went to Oswestry to hear a Shakespeare recital from John Gielgud.
Evacuees from a number of other Trust schools including Notting Hill and Ealing, Sutton, Wimbledon, Croydon and Sydenham, were enrolled at Shrewsbury. From 1939 to 1940 the school also enrolled Jewish refugees from Austria, Germany and Czechoslovakia.
An evacuee from Wimbledon High School penned the poem Records and Reminiscences from Shrewsbury High School, an extract:
Dear bearers of the apple fruit –
Accept we beg this small tribute
To Shropshire, Shrewsbury and the School
Beneath whose discipline and rule
Now learn (and also flourish) we
Who once knelt round the apple tree.
And of the floods:
It rose unchallenged eighteen feet,
Surrounded cottage, rushed up street,
Swept over meadow, crop and field
Till all beneath its force must yield.
And even now the hockey pitch
Bears slight resemblance to a ditch.
The start of 1941 saw a substantial number of new pupils transferred from schools in unsafe areas.
Sports day of that year went ahead but no parents were invited as it would have been impossible to offer shelter to everyone in the event of an air raid alert. However, the day did see the breaking of the school high jump record by Peggy Blakeway Phillips, at 5ft 1inch. The sports day prize money was instead spent on toys for children evacuated to Shrewsbury whose homes had been destroyed by air raids.
The school cadets also finished a recreation hut of a Searchlight Unit stationed on Ellesmere Road. A school vegetable patch was started with the view to sell produce and raise funds for charities. Girls helped with the work of the Food Office in the issue of ration books. And the county police sent a gas van to the school for testing of the girls’ gas masks.
Summer of 1942 saw produce from the school vegetable being sold with proceeds going to the Orthopaedic Hospital. However, the allotment had to be abandoned due to sheep being allowed to graze on the hockey field. A nettle collection was started in response to a national appeal for nettles in order to produce dye for camouflage. Money was raised in order to buy tables and chairs for an anti-aircraft battery hut. And in the summer holidays, a party of senior girls went to Corfton Farm, Craven Arms, to help with the plum picking. The school guides received Blitz cooking practice on the hockey field.
During the autumn term of 1942, more than two hundred books and magazines were collected and sent to the school’s ‘adopted’ Merchant Navy ship, S. S. Twickenham, organised through the Ship Adoption Society. A school visit was arranged to Chatwood Safe Company in Shrewsbury, to see munitions being made.
The boarding house at Cyngfeld closed in 1943 due to it being increasingly difficult to get domestic help because of a shortage of labour. The house was then commandeered by the A.T.S as a hospital. “It cannot always have been easy to unite the divergent interests and loyalties of boarders and day girls, but that this was achieved to a larger extent than might have been expected, may have been due to the pleasant and friendly contact which existed between the staff. Girls at the boarding house regularly gave a party for all the staff at Christmas and seized opportunities to present a play, and in the summer also entertained them at picnics or tennis matches.”
The senior girls were entertained by a pianoforte recital given by Dr Friedmann, an exile from Austria, and onetime Principal of the Conservatoire, Vienna.
Spring 1944 saw the school take over the gardening of an allotment on the corporation estate land near English Bridge. In the summer term, three children evacuated from London started at the school.
The produce from the Harvest Festival in 1944 was taken to the Eye, Ear and Nose Hospital, the Royal Salop Infirmary and to the Waifs and Strays Home on Sutton Road. The latter also received a doll’s house made and furnished by the students along with stockings filled with toys, sweets and apples. The school guide company also ‘adopted’ a British prisoner of war in Germany so he received a parcel regularly.
In March 1945, the Ladybird Guide Patrol raised enough money to pay the travelling expenses of a relief worker. The summer of that year saw 892 eggs collected for Shirlett Sanatorium, Broseley.
1946 magazine has a reference to the last printed magazine being in 1940, with two handmade editions in 1941 and 1943.
The school adopted S. S. Twickenham in 1942 and parcels of books, magazines, razor blades and cigarettes were sent in time for Christmas each year. Captain Cromarty was in regular correspondence with the school, writing with descriptions of the many places around the world the ship had visited. When the ship docked at Plymouth, Captain Cromarty had one of the ship’s life buoys painted with the school colours, the ship owner’s colours and the name of the ship. This, along with eight tins of grapefruit juice, were sent to the school as a thanks for the many parcels that the crew had received over the years. It was hung in the Old Hall next to the ship’s noticeboard.
News from Old Girls in 1946 – Mary Dixon was awarded an OBE for her war work; Eva Edwards was awarded an MBE for her work during the previous 25 years under the Public Health Committee, Manchester; Heather Auchterlone was working at the Foreign Office and was one of the Right. Hon. Anthony Eden’s secretaries; Peggy Blakeway Phillips was with the Army of Occupation in the British zone of Germany.
1947 the school ‘adopted’ a German family of eight, including six children, who had been turned out of their native East Prussia at the end of the war, and who had lost all their property and belongings. The family were now all living in one room and only two of the children had shoes. Each month the school sent a seven-pound food parcel and two parcels of clothing to the family. The children’s mother, Frau Anna Krisp, wrote letters of thanks to the school and said the first parcel was the first time any of them had ever received anything from overseas.
Old girls Gwynneth Webb and Joan Dunn were both working with the Control Commission in Germany.
1948 saw the completion of the new canteen kitchen. It also saw the return of the hockey field (sacrificed as part of the school’s war effort) and the construction of two new tennis courts.
Captain Lawson Smith, a deep-sea diver, gave a lecture on the recovery of shipwrecks – in his full copper, rubber and canvas diving suit.
The S. S. Twickenham docks at Newport and twelve students are taken on a trip to see the ship and meet with the Captain. They were allowed to look through a sextant to find the position of the sun: ‘some of us did see a very disappointing looking sun, but others, I think, were looking in the wrong direction.’
1409 eggs were collected for the Shirlett Sanatorium in 1949. The school was still being inspired by its connection to the S. S. Twickenham and launched a competition for ‘best-made boat from odds and ends’.
The egg collection for Shirlett Sanatorium was 1645 in 1951.
The autumn term of 1958 saw the introduction of the new House system. Cannings (after the school’s first headmistress), Gurney (a founder member of the GDST), Hallam (Old Salopian, a governor and friend of the school in countless ways), Magnus (Sir Laurie – former member of the GDST Council), Somerville (after whom the Trust Science Prize is named), Stanley (Lady Stanley of Alderley, the great benefactor and worker for women’s rights in education).
“The summer term  brought the blossoming of the whole School into boaters! It seems to be generally agreed that these are a success, and they have the advantage over panamas of keeping their shape in a thunder storm. We have yet to see if they will do the same when sat on.” (School Magazine, 1959)
In 1959 the school took over ‘Stepping Stones’ preparatory school on Kennedy Road in Kingsland and merged it with its junior department. The art department subsequently moved into Hampden House.
In 1960 the school celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a commemoration service at St. Chad’s church in the morning and a school pageant later on. A birthday cake displaying the school badge was shared among the whole school.
The early sixties also saw the departure of the junior boys from the High School. Boys had always been admitted in Juniors hitherto but with the need for more places for girls, the tradition came to an end. New laboratories opened in 1961 and No. 28 Town Walls became the Music School (the landscaping of the ‘sunk garden’ was done at this time).
In 1967, Crescent Lane House was purchased and after conversion and furnishing, became the sixth-form house. The first visitor entertained to tea there was the GDST Patron, H.R.H the Duchess of Gloucester, who visited the school in July 1968. The building is now the Music House.
The 1970s saw the building of a new Hall/Gymnasium and new Science buildings.
1971 saw the basement of Hampden House adapted for pottery. Shortly afterwards, No. 28 Town Walls was purchased and became the music school.
In 1985 H.R.H. Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, arrived by helicopter in the Quarry in order to officially open the ‘Centenary Building’ in what had been the former Christian Science Church on Town Walls.
In 1992 new buildings for Physics, Information Communication Technology, and English were opened by Heather Couper, astronomer and broadcaster.
In 1996 a new Performing Arts Studio was opened, and to celebrate the occasion ‘The Laundry Girls‘ was performed by Shrewsbury High School pupils.
In 1997 a purpose built library was opened in the basement of the Centenary Building.
In 2000 the school acquired 27 Town Walls to provide extra facilities for the sixth formers.
In 2005 the school opened a new sports hall called the ‘Kingsland Centre’.
In 2007 the Junior school merged with Kingsland Grange Prep School.
2012 26 Town Walls (new Sixth Form House)
September 2021 – Junior girls move into their new school nestled in the heart of the Town Walls site. Girls from 4-18 are now all together on one site in the heart of town.
Some of our earliest students:
Anne Askew Woodall
Born 1872; SHS 1887 – 1890. Died in 1926. Became a student teacher for a year at SHS then went to Newnham College, Cambridge, for a Mathematical Tripos.
From Cambridge she spent eleven years as a school mistress at Worcester High School for Girls, before moving to Milton Mount College, Kent in 1906, where she became headmistress until her death in 1926.
Ellen Edith Thomas
Born 1871; SHS 1885 – 1889 Student teacher at SHS for a year. 1892 Newnham College.
Florence Emily Davies
Born 1873; SHS 1886 – 1890. Returned as a student teacher in 1891. BA from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1895. In 1899 she became headmistress of the County School, Bridgend. In 1902 she was appointed headmistress of Newtown Girls’ School. She died in Newtown in 1947.
Born 1871; SHS 1898 – 1895
Born 1881; SHS 1890 – 1889.
Girton College, Cambridge, Medieval and Modern Languages.
Notting Hill High School Magazine of 1904: Jennie Franklin is a valuable member of the first eleven (hockey) and is Head Captain of the fire brigade.
Born 1879; SHS 1883 (from Sutton High School) – 1898.
St Andrew’s, M.A. Wellington Journal of April 1903 reports that she has taken her M.A. degree with class honours and prizes for Latin and botany.
Daisy Gladys Scott
Born 1883; SHS 1891 – 1902
In the autumn of 1902 Daisy went into residence at the Hall for Women Students, University College Liverpool in preparation for a BSc. Daisy had been awarded a scholarship in Science and was placed in Class I for Botany. The Head had heard from the Head of the hall of residence that Daisy and a fellow SHS student at Liverpool, Ethel Whittington, ‘both knew a good deal better than most of the young students how to work by themselves.’
In 1905 Daisy was awarded a scholarship for research, MSc, and was also appointed as a member of the university teaching staff.
By 1911 Daisy was an Assistant Lecturer and Demonstrator in Botany at the University of Liverpool.
The apical meristems of the roots of certain aquatic monocotyledons. New Phytologist. 1906.
On abnormal flowers of Solanum tuberosum. New Phytologist. 1906.
On the megaspore of Lepidostrobus foliaceus. New Phytologist. 1906.
Chemistry of vegetable physiology and agriculture. Journal of the Chemical Society. 1907.
On the Size of the Cells of Pleurococcus and Saccharomyces in Solutions of a Neutral Salt. Biochemical Journal. 1907.
On the distribution of chlorophyll in the young shoots of woody plants. Annals of Botany. 1907.
On the Effect of Acids, Alkalis, and Neutral Salts on the Fermentative Activity and on the Rate of Multiplication of Yeast Cells. Biochemical Journal. 1907.
Born 1884; SHS 1896 – 1902
Took a first class honours degree in Classics at Manchester University, leaving in 1906, was teaching at a girls’ school in Salford in 1911, and later became headmistress of Clitheroe Grammar School for Girls.
Dr Esther Harding
Esther Harding was a pupil at the High School from 1899 to 1907, and the first High School pupil to train as a doctor. She attended the London School of Medicine for Women, established in 1874, it was the first medical school in the UK to train women as doctors. Esther graduated as a doctor in 1914 in a class of nine students and went on to intern at the Royal Infirmary in London, the only hospital in London to accept women interns at that time.
In 1916 she was the House Surgeon at the New Hospital for Women in London. The hospital had been founded in 1890 by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first women in Britain to qualify as a physician and surgeon. It was the first hospital in Britain with only medical women appointed to its staff and was established to enable poor women to obtain medical help from qualified female practitioners.
In 1919 she was the first recipient of the William Gibson Research Scholarship for Medical Women, awarded by the Royal Society of Medicine.
Esther became interested in the relatively new field of psychiatry, and in 1922 moved to Switzerland to study under Carl Gustav Jung. In 1924 Esther relocated to New York, where she developed an extensive practice as a psychoanalyst, becoming one of the chief exponents of Jung’s teachings and, as a leading member of the Karl Jung Foundation, lectured widely in the United States and in Europe.
Published in 1933 and 1935 respectively, The Way of All Women and Women’s Mysteries were pioneering works in the field of psychology from a feminist perspective, exploring topics such as work, marriage, motherhood, old age and women’s relationships, from a Jungian standpoint. Jung himself praised both as an accurate application of Jungian theory. In his introduction to The Way of All Women, he wrote: “Drawing on her rich psychotherapeutic experience, Dr. Harding has sketched a picture of the feminine psyche which, in scope and thoroughness, far surpasses previous works in this field.” Both books were instant bestsellers and were translated into many languages. Esther was a prodigious writer and lecturer and wrote many other well-known books, including: Psychic Energy, Women’s Mysteries, The Parental Image, and The I and not I, along with numerous papers on a variety of subjects from depression to religion.