Source 10

Extract from the Daily Mail entitled ‘Women who pose as men: An army Surgeon’s Career’, 27 August 1910, from Dr James Barry’s personal file. Catalogue ref: WO 25/3910


Please note that the tone and language used in article are of their time and unacceptable today. The questions are based on a short extract taken from the article. The whole article is also available for further investigation. 




“Dr James Barry” 


Army surgeon and Inspector- General of Hospitals. In a sketch of “his” career Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers advances evidence that he really was a woman. 


In spite of the common opinion that a woman cannot for long pass as a man without arousing suspicion two striking instances have recently come to light where for a number of years the imposition has never been suspected.  


Marie le Roy passed for twenty-five years as Larry Lloyd at Enfield and her sex was only discovered on her death a few weeks ago, and Mrs Elena Smith has engaged for the last five years in business in New York as “Mr A.L. Martinez” and her sex was not even suspected till she confessed it with some scathing criticism of the American as he appears to his fellow men. 


One of the most interesting of these impersonations is that of Dr James Barry, M.D. Inspector-General of Hospitals, concerning whom Lieutenant-Colonel E Rogers, sends us the following account taken from the introduction of his book: “A Modern Sphinx” 



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  • What is the subject of this article? 
  • Can you define the following words in the extract? Impersonation; suspected; confessed; sphinx. 
  • How does this choice of language set the tone/attitude of the article? 
  • Why is E. Roger’s book (published in 1881) called “A Modern Sphinx” do you think? 
  • Why can an article like this be considered shocking and inappropriate today? 
  • Does this source reveal anything about attitudes in society in 1910?