International Women’s Day: Lilian Lindsay CBE, UK’s first female dentist

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating the life and work of Lilian Lindsay CBE, a pioneer in the world of dentistry.

Born in 1871, she was the first woman to qualify as a dentist in the UK and the first female member and subsequently President of the British Dental Association (BDA).

Who was Lilian Lindsay:

  • Educated at Camden School for Girls, Lindsay won a scholarship to study at the North London Collegiate School. She defied the advice of the headmistress to train as a teacher and decided to become a dentist.
  • She applied to study at the National Dental Hospital in London, but her application was rejected. She had to take her LDS in Edinburgh as no English dental school would accept a woman and she qualified with honours in 1895.
  • In 1920, she moved with her husband Robert back to London, took a new role as Honorary Librarian at the BDA and put together the country’s first dental library. She devoted herself to the history of dentistry, writing books and over 50 journal articles.
  • She was sub-editor of the British Dental Journal for 20 years (1931-1951), President of the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics (1938) and President of the Odontological Section (1945). She was awarded the CBE in 1946.
  • The BDA library was named the Robert and Lilian Lindsay Library.