mobile nav


Marie Stopes

Person  Female  Born 15/10/1880  Died 2/10/1958

Categories: Gender Issues, Medicine, Science

Countries: Scotland

Born in Edinburgh. Scientist, writer, dramatist and poet. Publicist of the campaign for sexual education. Advocate of family planning and founder of pioneer birth control clinic. Courageous crusader for the rights of women.
Initially studied geology, geography and botany, becoming an expert on fossil plants, publishing two major works. Met Gates, a Canadian, when she attended a scientific meeting in America. They married in Montreal in 1911 and then settled in London. The marriage was annulled in 1916 with Stopes claiming that it had never been consummated and that her sexual education had come from the controlled books at the British Museum. Gates later claimed that she had had sexual relations with other men both before and during their marriage. Stopes was assisted in her contraception campaign by her second husband, the aircraft pioneer, Humphrey Roe. Died at Norbury Park, her home in Dorking since 1933.

Playground rhyme of the time:
Jeanie, Jeanie, full of hopes,
Read a book by Marie Stopes
But, to judge from her condition,
She must have read the wrong edition.

Stopes could be a difficult person: Muriel Spark once crossed swords with the birth control campaigner and found herself lamenting that Stopes's mother had not been better informed on the subject.

2020: The organisation that Stopes started was named after her, first as Marie Stopes Mothers' Clinic and later as Marie Stopes UK or Marie Stopes International.  In 2020 the BBC reported that the organisation had renamed itself MSI Reproductive Choices to distance it from Stopes' views on eugenics. The BBC wrote: "MSI Reproductive Choices said these views 'though not uncommon at that time, are now rightly discredited'."

See other memorials in this area

This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Marie Stopes

Information Commemorated at

Fitzrovia local mural

Cynthia Williams was added in 2000.

Read More

Marie Stopes Clinic

The first birth control clinic was opened by Dr. Marie Stopes in 1921 at Holl...

Read More

Marie Stopes Mothers' Clinic

Historic House Marie Stopes, 1880 - 1958, opened here the Mothers' Clinic. ...

Read More

Marie Stopes - NW3

Marie Carmichael Stopes, 1880 - 1958. Writer, dramatist and poet. Publicist...

Read More

Marie Stopes - SE19

English Heritage Marie Stopes, 1880 - 1958, promoter of sex education and bir...

Read More