Marie Elizabeth Amy Castilla

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Dr Marie Elizabeth Amy Castilla M.B, Ch.B, also known as Mary Elizabeth Amy de Castilla, (26 September 1868[1] - 9 November 1898[2][3]) was born in Kew, Melbourne, Australia. She was a co-founder of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital,[4] and worked as a general practitioner and surgeon. She was known as one of the "cleverest" female doctors, and "one of the pioneer lady doctors"[2][3] of Melbourne for her dedication to women's health.


Castilla worked as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital, and upon obtaining her certificate she enrolled in university studying medicine, becoming one of the first female graduates from Melbourne University (M.B, Ch.B.) in 1893.[5][6][7][8] In 1894 she went on to work as the resident Medical Officer at the Mercy Hospital for Women. Soon after, on October 12, 1894, Castilla was appointed Assistant Medical Officer at the Royal Women's Hospital[4] and, on March 15, 1895, she was appointed resident surgeon to the midwifery department of the hospital.[9]

Castilla also worked as a surgeon at St Vincent's Hospital (Melbourne) in 1894, but found this work "rather trying".[10] She was the first woman to hold the position of a "house doctor" in a general hospital.[5]

Castilla was a co-founder of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital,[4] Melbourne, which was the first women's hospital established in Victoria in 1896, and at the time, one of only three hospitals in the world "founded, managed and staffed by women", for women.[11] Here, she worked as a surgeon, giving aid to poorer women and children who may have felt "uncomfortable" seeing a male doctor.[11]

In 1896, Castilla delivered a lecture to women at the Warrawee Club, detailing the need for physical exercise in order to aid in the development of "strength of will and physical courage."[12] In this lecture, she also stated the need for women to take on a "more rational state of dress",[12] rather than the restrictive clothing worn at the time, in order to exercise effectively.


Castilla was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2007.[13]

Personal Life[edit]

Castilla was born to father, Frederic Mariano de Castilla (1819 - 23 January 1869), and mother, May Robertson (1 August 1830 - 4 October 1910) in Kew, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, as the youngest of six surviving children.[5]

She was of Anglican faith.[2]


Castilla died of tuberculosis after suffering several weeks of a severe cold. During her illness she was attended to "day and night" by her friend, colleague, and fellow co-founder of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital, Dr. Helen Sexton.[2][3]

A letter written prior to the doctor's death by her elder sister, Miss Ethel Castilla, reveals her worry for her sister's health, as she was "sorely troubled as to [her] sister. Seven weeks ago she was a strong capable woman and a help to her family."[7]

Following her death, the 'Western Argus' newspaper's 1 Dec 1898 publication commented that, "besides being a prime mover in the foundation and establishment of the Victoria Women's Hospital, the lady worked unremittingly for the good of the institution, and many a grateful needy patient bears testimony to her good deeds and kindness of heart."[10]


  1. "Family Notices". Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957). 1868-09-30. p. 4. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Obituary - Marie Elizabeth Amy Castilla - Obituaries Australia". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "From the Gay Metropolis". Critic (Adelaide, SA : 1897-1924). 1898-11-19. p. 28. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Queen Victoria Women's Centre, Shilling Wall Tributes".
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "The Descendants of Mariano Jose Ramos de Castilla - Person Page". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  6. "DEATH OF DR. CASTILLA". Menzies Miner (WA : 1896 - 1901). 1898-11-19. p. 17. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Death of Miss Amy Castilla". Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 - 1912). 1898-11-19. p. 1214. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  8. "MISS AMY CASTILLA". Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 - 1934). 1898-11-18. p. 20. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  9. "WOMEN DOCTORS OF VICTORIA: MISS MARIE ELIZABETH AMY CASTILLA, M.B." Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946). 1895-03-23. p. 23. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "A PIONEER'S FATE". Kalgoorlie Western Argus (WA : 1896 - 1916). 1898-12-01. p. 23. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Queen Victoria Hospital. (1896-1977) - People and organisations". Trove. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "LECTURE ON EXERCISE FOR LADIES". Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). 1896-10-26. p. 9. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  13. "VICTORIAN HONOUR ROLL OF WOMEN List of Inductees 2001 to 2011" (PDF).

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