Exordium - Florence Majorie Hughes

Name: Florence Marjorie Hughes

MBBS – University of Melbourne (1922)
DA RCP+S – London (1939)

Date of Birth: 1898
Date of Death: Unknown

Florence Marjorie Hughes was born in 1898 in Malvern, Victoria. After graduating from the University of Melbourne in 1922, Hughes worked at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. She left Australia for the United Kingdom in 1927 working at many hospitals and traveling to Italy before returning home. Records indicate she must have travelled again to the United Kingdom to receive her Diploma of Anaesthetics in 1939 or 1940.

Hughes continued to work at the Alfred until around 1942. After this year, Hughes entered into private practice on Collins Street in Melbourne. Her contributions to anaesthetics are relatively unknown, however, she gained postgraduate qualifications which enabled her to share new knowledge in Australia.

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Florence Marjorie Hughes was born in 1898 in Malvern, Victoria. Her early education is unknown.[i] In 1922, Hughes graduated from the University of Melbourne with a MBBS degree: Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.[ii] Hughes would later graduate from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons with a Diploma in Anaesthetics in 1939/1940.[iii] This degree was unavailable in Australia or New Zealand during this period.

After graduating from the University of Melbourne, Hughes served as the clinical assistant to Children’s. She continued to work at the Alfred Hospital from 1923 until 1925 as an anaesthetist.[iv] In 1926, Hughes left Australia to travel abroad. Records of her voyage to Europe have been recorded in The Age newspaper. According to her personal recollections, Hughes left Melbourne on the Swedish Cargo Boat Yugaren.[v] Due to her qualifications, she became the ship’s doctor undertaking much work along the way to Belfast, Ireland. At one port, Hughes helped the captain’s wife give birth, providing medical support.

From Belfast, Hughes travelled to London where she worked at “many big London Hospitals.”[vi] She returned to Melbourne on the Ornsay in 1927.[vii]

Although not recorded in newspapers, Hughes must have returned to the United Kingdom to complete her diploma in 1939/1940.

On her return to Australia, Hughes again worked at the Alfred Hospital as an assistant to anaesthetist from 1936 until 1942.[viii] After this year her resume at the Alfred Hospital has her position as lapsed. Hughes may have worked for a period of time at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.[ix] This is because she attended a dance held by the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1939. This, however, may simply be an indication of Hughes’s social life and not her professional appointments.

Between 1942 and 1952, Hughes worked in private practice at 111 Collins Street.[x] Hughes released newspaper advertisements from 1948 to promote her private practice. On her form for Fellowship in 1952, Hughes’s address is the same.[xi] After 1952, it is unknown what professional appointments she held.

Hughes contributions to anaesthetics remain relatively unknown. Her nomination to the Foundation Fellows of the Faculty of Anaesthetists, Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, however, indicate she was a significant early figure in the history of anaesthetics.


[i] Births Deaths Marriages Victoria, ‘Family History Search: Hughes, Florence Marjorie’, 2015, Online: https://online.justice.vic.gov.au/bdm/indexsearch.doj.

[ii] Florence Marjorie Hughes, ‘Exordium’, Application Form, 1952, Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History: VKGM 6903.23.[iii] Alfred Hospital Seventieth Annual Report, 30th June 1940, Held in Archives at Alfred Hospital.[iv] Marjorie F. Hughes, ‘Anaesthetist Resume’, 1942, Alfred Hospital Archives.[v] ‘A Woman As Ship’s Doctor’, The Age Melbourne, 15 March 1927, p. 6.[vi] Ibid.[vii] Ibid.[viii] Marjorie F. Hughes, ‘Anaesthetist Resume’.[ix] ‘The Life of Melbourne’, The Age Melbourne, 29 April 1939, p. 29.[x] ‘Special Advertisements: Resumed Practice’, The Age Melbourne, 3 April 1948, p. 2.[xi] Florence Marjorie Hughes, ‘Exordium’.



  1. Florence Marjorie Hughes, ‘Exordium’, Application Form, 1952, Geoffrey Kaye Museum of Anaesthetic History: VKGM 6903.23.