Dr Lilian Cooper was Brisbane’s first female doctor. She arrived in Queensland in 1891 accompanied by her life partner Josephine Bedford.
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Lilian and Josephine became renowned for their unstinting charity work. They also received medals for their wartime service, volunteering on the front lines in Europe.
On their deaths, they bequeathed their home for the construction of a palliative care hospital.
They rest for eternity in a shared grave at Brisbane’s Toowong Cemetery. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜
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Dr Lilian Cooper and Josephine Bedford became leading citizens in their new hometown. But only after some initial resistance. Male doctors would not even speak to the ‘Lady Doctor’ when she first arrived. They refused to accept referrals from her or to administer anesthesia when she operated.
However, Lilian was undeterred, her practice thrived, and the male doctors eventually gave in.
But Dr Lilian Cooper refused to pander for social approval. She was defiantly butch, ‘mannish’ according to her contemporaries, and dressed severely. She also swore like a bullocky.
But Dr Lilian Cooper and Josephine Bedford proved two of the most civic-minded citizens Brisbane ever knew. Their contributions to the community in which they lived made lasting impacts, particularly on the women and children of their adopted hometown.
Want to know more about these two amazing lesbians? Click away!
Brisbane couple Katy Forde and Aleathea Monsour’s acclaimed musical about Lil and Jo: A Girl’s Guide to World War.
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