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Imprint: Oneworld Publications

Subject: History

Dr James Barry

A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Dr. Michael du Preez Jeremy Dronfield

A Sunday Times Book of the Year

As featured on the BBC Radio 2 Book Club

Dr James Barry: Inspector General of Hospitals, army surgeon, duellist, reformer, ladykiller, eccentric. He performed the first successful Caesarean in the British Empire, outraged the military establishment and gave Florence Nightingale a dressing down at Scutari. At home he was surrounded by a menagerie of animals, including a cat, a goat, a parrot and a terrier. Long ago in Cork, Ireland, he had also been a mother.

This is the amazing tale of Margaret Anne Bulkley, the young woman who broke the rules of Georgian society to become one of the most respected surgeons of the century. In an extraordinary life, she crossed paths with the British Empire’s great and good, royalty and rebels, soldiers and slaves. A medical pioneer, she rose to a position that no woman before her had been allowed to occupy, but for all her successes, her long, audacious deception also left her isolated, even costing her the chance to be with the man she loved.

  • Publication date: July 6, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781786071194
  • RRP: £11.99
  • Pages: 496
  • Publication date: August 25, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780748313
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 496
  • Publication date: August 25, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781780743141
  • RRP: £5.99
  • Pages: 336


‘A scintillating portrait of Barry’s life…that feels almost Dickensian in style.’


‘An astounding story  of obstinacy, ambition, genius, fearlessness and pioneering feminism.’

Daily Mail

‘Thoroughly engaging.’

Sunday Times, Books of the Year

‘Gripping, unusual, moving.’

Times, Books of the Year

‘A comprehensive account.’

London Review of Books


History Today

‘Thoroughly researched, stimulating…Highly recommended’.

The Lady


Irish Independent

‘An irresistible little byway in 18th-century medical and social history’.


‘An elegant and sensitive biography…du Preez and Dronfield have done Margaret Buckley and her alter ego proud in this absorbing book.’

The Times

‘A cracking story’.

SpectatorMaggie Fergusson

‘This is a fascinating account of the life and career of Dr James Barry as a doctor working in the early nineteenth century. Although Dr Barry obtained a Diploma from this College in 1813 it is only now through this book we are able to fully understand and recognise her achievements.’

Clare Marx, President, the Royal College of Surgeons of England

Jeremy Dronfield

Jeremy Dronfield is a writer, biographer and noveliist. 

Author page

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