Lilian Violet Cooper

Lilian Violet Cooper (b. 11 August 1861 London - d.18 August 1947 Brisbane) was a British-born medical practitioner in Queensland, Australia. She was the first female doctor registered in Queensland.[1]

Early life

Lillian Cooper was born in Clapham, South London on 11 August 1861, to parents Henry Fallowfield Cooper, a captain in the Royal Marines, and his wife Elizabeth[2]. She chose to study medicine at the London School of Medicine for Women in 1886. After completing the course in October 1890 she qualified as a doctor at the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, studying also at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.

In 1891 she emigrated to Brisbane. She joined the Medical Society of Queensland in 1893. She worked firstly at the Hospital for Sick Children and the Lady Lamington Hospital for Women in Brisbane, before joining the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in 1905. [3]

World War I

During World War I Cooper volunteered with the Scottish Women's Hospital Service after was she was turned down by the Australian Army as female doctors were not wanted. She assisted people on the front line in France and Serbia and was in charge of the ambulance division, with all female drivers (including her close friend Mary Josephine Bedford). Operating in tents close to the front line, Cooper was later awarded the Order of St Sava from the Serbian King for her wartime efforts.[4]

Later life

After World War I, she returned to Brisbane, living at Kangaroo Point, and helped found the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1928. She retired in 1941.

Lilian Violet Cooper died on 18 August 1947 and is buried next to her long-time companion Mary Josephine Bedford at Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.[5]


The electoral district of Cooper created in the 2017 Queensland state electoral redistribution was named after her.[6]


  1. Leggett, C. A. C. Cooper, Lilian Violet (1861–1947). Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. Patrick, Ross. 'The First Woman' in: Horsewhip the Doctor Tales from Our Medical Past. UQ Press, 1985 p 147
  3. Leggett, C.A.C. "Cooper, Lilian Violet (1861–1947)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  4. "Lilian Cooper (1861-1947)" (PDF). History of women in Queensland. Queensland Government. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  5. "Cemeteries search". Brisbane City Council. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  6. Queensland Redistribution Commission (26 May 2017). "Determination of Queensland's Legislative Assembly Electoral Districts" (PDF). Queensland Government Gazette. p. 188. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.

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