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Review Essay

The Original Hidden Figures

The Women Scientists Who Won the Great War

In This Review

A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War
A Lab of One’s Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War
By Patricia Fara
Oxford University Press, 2018, 304 pp. Purchase

In the center of many British towns stands a cenotaph, a memorial tomb honoring the native sons who gave their lives during World War I. Etched into the plinths, in between carved garlands and laurels, are the names and military ranks of the fallen. Additional rows list the soldiers and sailors lost in later conflicts. On Remembrance Day, November 11, the anniversary of the end of World War I, red silk poppies adorn the monuments in remembrance of these patriots’ sacrifices.

Unrecorded and unrecognized, much less inscribed in stone, is an entire class of patriots that British society has willfully forgotten over the past century: the women who gave their all for the war effort, including many who even gave their lives. Some used their muscles in mines and munitions factories. Some brought their medical expertise to the front. And some put their minds and scientific skills in the service of

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