Lives of the fellows

Constance Marjorie Ridley

b.22 May 1926 d.28 October 2000
BM BCh Oxon(1950) MA(1951) MRCP(1954) FRCP(1972)

Marjorie Ridley made an enormous contribution to the improvement of women's health, establishing England's first dermatological clinic devoted to the diagnosis and management of genital dermatoses. She published extensively on the subject and compiled an authoritative textbook, The vulva (London, W. B. Saunders, 1975). She gained international recognition for her work both in Europe and the United States and was president of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Diseases and co-founder and first president of the European College for the Study of Vulvovaginal Diseases. She was awarded the first honorary fellowship of the British Society for the Study of Vulval Diseases.

Marjorie Ridley was born in Durham, the only child of Constance and James Ridley. She was educated at Scarborough Girls High School and Mill Mount Grammar School in York, before gaining a place at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University as the first Heron Allen scholar in 1944. Her medical education was continued at UCH with a Goldsmith scholarship in 1947 and she completed her clinical training in 1950.

She embarked on her dermatology career in 1955, training in the skin department at the London Hospital until 1962. She then continued at the London as honorary clinical assistant and took up consultant posts at the Temperance Hospital and Brentwood Group. In 1968 she was appointed as consultant dermatologist to the Whittington Hospital from where she set up the clinic for vulval dermatoses at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and remained there until her retirement in 1991. In her retirement she became an honorary consultant dermatologist at St John's Dermatology Centre, St Thomas's Hospital where she helped to set up a new vulval clinic and she continued to attend this clinic up until her death. She also had a private practice.

Marjorie was a dedicated doctor and teacher, her pioneering work and nonconfrontational approach successfully bringing together the disciplines of gynaecology, genito-urinary medicine and dermatology. She was a very powerful role model and many young doctors from both home and abroad came to do clinical attachments to her clinic where they were always received with great kindness and encouragement. Despite her great achievements she remained an extremely modest woman and was unstintingly generous in sharing her considerable expertise, always keen for others to take up her mantle as she prepared for her future retirement.

In addition to her specialised interest she was a highly respected and competent general dermatologist of impeccable integrity and was president of the section of dermatology at the Royal Society of Medicine from 1991 to 1992.

Outside medicine she pursued many interests, particularly ballet, opera and literature. She remained a permanent student ever keen to further her already considerable knowledge, gaining a diploma in English literature in 1963. She was widely read and collected a library full of all the world's great literature but her greatest love was the ballet, which she followed with considerable passion.

She was totally committed to her profession but always had time for her many good friends who will remember her for her great personal qualities of loyalty, kindness and quiet but very pertinent sense of humour. She accepted and struggled to survive her final illness of peritoneal carcinoma with incredible stoicism and bravery.

Sallie Neil

(Volume XI, page 481)

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