The four works in this volume are the only known exclusively medical texts written by women during the Restoration. Their importance is denoted by their dramatic challenge to the generalisations once made about medical practice and female healers in this period. Jane Sharp's The Midwives Book was the first and only midwifery manual to be printed in English before 1700, and continued to be influential into the early eighteenth century. The principal focus of Elizabeth Cellier's To Dr.--- (1688) is the attempt to legitimate the notion of a female corporation of midwives through historical precedent. To Dr.--- was in fact borne out of a previously unpublished effort, 'A Scheme for the Foundation of a Royal Hospital', sent to James II in 1687. In the document, Cellier outlined a specific scheme for training female midwives and supporting poor, pregnant women and abandoned children. Mary Trye began practising 'chymical physic' at her father's side in London in 1663. Her only known work, Medicatrix, was published in 1675. Trye claimed female medical authorship to be unique, in that women observed nature truly and administered genuine medical solutions to the sick. The writings of Sharp, Cellier and Trye have helped to overturn historians' assumptions about a woman's role in medicine and healing. These texts reveal their female authors to be as learned in the humanities and sciences as they were in medical matters.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introductory Note; The midwives book. Or the whole Art of Midwifry discovered, Jane Sharp; To Dr.-an answer to his queries, concerning the colledg of Midwives 'A scheme for the foundation of a royal Hospital'; Elizabeth Cellier; Medicatrix, or the woman-physician, Mary Trye; Appendix: The mid-wives just petition: or, a complaint of the divers good gentlewomen of that faculty.