The real Marie Stopes

SHE was one of the most controversial figures of the first half of the 20th century, reviled for her “revolutionary” views on birth control and the rights of women – but how much do you actually know about Marie Stopes? Discover the story of this remarkable woman at a talk at Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill Museum on Tuesday 8th January at 2.30pm.

For many years the author of Married Love, lived on Portland. David Carter, a trustee of Portland Museum, will give an illustrated talk about the eventful life and times of Dr Marie Stopes (1880-1958), who was the founder, benefactor and first curator of Portland Museum,

In 1923, in the wake of a protracted and ultimately unsuccessful libel case, Marie Stopes bought the Old Higher Lighthouse on Portland. In 1930 she was instrumental in the opening of Portland Museum and remained a trustee until shortly before her death. Her ashes were to be scattered off Portland Bill.

The young Marie Stopes achieved distinction in the predominantly male world of academia: she was the youngest recipient of a DSc degree from University College London, earned a PhD in botany from the University of Munich, and from 1904 to 1910 was the University of Manchester’s first female academic as a lecturer in Palaeobotany.

In 1913 she could not find a publisher for her book Married Love which offered advice on family planning. When it was eventually published in 1918 with the financial backing of her second husband it was reprinted five times in a year. Henceforward Marie Stopes’s name was to be associated with advocacy of methods of birth control, leading to controversy and conflict with establishment figures.

This talk to Shaftesbury & District Historical Society at Gold Hill Museum is free to society members and there is a small charge for non-members at the door.