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Beulah Bewley: public health doctor and advocate for women in medicine

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 27 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k906
  1. Anne Gulland
  1. London
  1. annecgulland{at}

For the first 15 years of her working life, Beulah Bewley had what she described as a “zig zag career.”1 She did some paediatrics, some psychiatry, and some family planning, as, like so many professional women of her time, her career was subordinate to that of her husband and the bringing up of her five children.

However, in 1969, after seeing an advertisement in The BMJ for a new MSc in social medicine and epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), she decided to go back into education. Bewley was 40 and the only woman among 11 younger men, with whom, at the beginning, she felt she had to “catch up.”

Smoking study

In her second year Bewley studied smoking among primary school children in Lambeth, and this, after she graduated, led to a five year study looking at smoking rates among secondary school children in Derbyshire and Kent. Children and their parents would fill in questionnaires about their smoking with space to write comments: one mother said it was impossible to stop her child smoking because she ran a pub.

Bewley and her fellow researchers found that …

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