Everyone kept telling her no, but Aleen Cust stopped at nothing to become Britain's first female veterinary surgeon
Drawn to animals at a very young age, Aleen Cust (b. 1868 and d. 1937) was an English aristocrat who battled the odds to become Britain and Ireland's first woman veterinary surgeon. She was shunned by her family who was mortified by her ambitions to be educated and work for a living.
Despite having successfully trained in Scotland, she was prohibited from qualifying by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) based solely on her gender. Nonetheless, Aleen practiced as a vet without a license for twenty-two years before receiving her diploma in 1922. During this time, she worked in Ireland with a vanguard Irish vet, Willie Byrne. Despite their differences—he was Irish Catholic, working class, and a nationalist and she was a noblewoman and Protestant—they had a passionate love affair. After his tragic death, Aleen defied the RCVS yet again and took herself to the Western Front to work with the military horses during World War I.
For readers of Marie Benedict, Tracey Enerson Wood, and James Herriot comes an engaging tale of ambition, inspiration, and love, based on the true story of a woman ahead of her time, who defied the patriarchy, society, and her family's wishes to pursue a career in a science-based field, paving the way for other women in veterinary science.
Author’s note. Reading group guide. “A Conversation with the Author.” Bibliography.
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