Marie Stopes was a pioneer of birth control. At the age of eighteen, she won a science scholarship at University College London. She achieved a double first and in 1905 became Britain's youngest Doctor of Science.
In 1918 she published a controversial and best selling sex manual, Married Love. It advocated a number of birth control methods including alternative spermicides such as olive oil, a surprisingly effective method of contraception that dates back to the Roman empire.
In 1921, she opened the first birth-control clinic in Britain in Holloway. The Mother's Clinic moved to the West End in 1925 where it remains to this day. Her work played a major role in breaking down taboos about sex and increasing knowledge, pleasure and reproductive health.
Dr Lesley A. Hall, FRHistSoc, is Senior Archivist at the Wellcome Library. She has published extensively on issues of gender and sexuality in the UK, and also on women in medicine and science. A selection of her books include Hidden Anxieties: Male Sexuality 1900-1950 , Outspoken Women: Women Writing about Sex, and Sex, Gender and Social Change.