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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


Irish Independent

‘Thoroughly researched, stimulating…Highly recommended’.

The Lady

‘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

‘At each turn of this quite gripping biography I found myself gasping in disbelief…the excavations of Michael du Preez…and Jeremy Dronfield…have yielded startling new evidence about the period…Their research is authoritative and prodigious’.

Literary Review

‘This fantastic book is so much more than a biography of a very remarkable woman. The thread of her personal story weaves its way through a meticulously researched record of a fascinating period in world history…compulsive reading.’

Dame Margaret Turner-Warwick, first female President, Royal College of Physicians

Jeremy Dronfield

Jeremy Dronfield is a writer, biographer and noveliist. 

Author page

More books by Jeremy Dronfield

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