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Google celebrates Lucy Wills’ 131st Birthday with a doodle


Google is celebrating the life and work of English haematologist Lucy Wills with a Google Doodle on her 131st birthday. She is remembered for her pioneering research into the prevention of prenatal anaemia, was born in England in 1888.

The search giant dedicated a doodle with Lucy Wills in a laboratory and some pieces of bread and a cup of tea on her table.

Todays google doodle

Lucy Wills was born on 10 May 1888 in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Wills father was a science graduate of Owens College Manchester. The family had a strong interest in scientific matters. Lucy Wills's great-grandfather, William Wills, had been involved with the British Association for the Advancement of Science and wrote papers on meteorology and other scientific observations.

In 1911, she earned first honours in botany and geology at Cambridge University's Newnham College, another institution at the forefront of educating women, followed by the London School of Medicine for Women, the first school in Britain to train female doctors.

However, a stint working as a nurse in South Africa during World War I led her to decide on a career in medicine, which had only recently been an option for women in England. She returned to London and entered the London School of Medicine for Women, England's first medical school for women (Bowden 2001), and gained her medical degree through London University in 1920 (Roe 1978).

During the Second World War she was a full-time pathologist in the Emergency Medical Service. Work in the pathology department was disrupted for a few days in July 1944 (and a number of people killed) when the hospital suffered a direct hit from a V1 flying bomb.

By the end of the war, she was in charge of pathology at the Royal Free and had established the first Haematology Department there. After her retirement, Lucy Wills travelled extensively, including to Jamaica, Fiji and South Africa, continuing her observations on nutrition and anaemia.

Lucy Wills in India

Lucy Wills was in India between 1928 and 1933, mostly based at the Haffkine Institute in Bombay. In the summer of 1929, from April to October, she moved her work to the Pasteur Institute of India in Coonoor (where Sir Robert McCarrison was Director of Nutrition Research), and in early 1931 she was working at the Caste and Gosha Hospital in Madras.

In each of the summers of 1930, 1931 and 1932 she returned to England for a few months and continued her work in the pathology laboratories at the Royal Free. She was back at the Royal Free full-time in 1933, but there was another ten-week working visit to the Haffkine Institute from November 1937 to early January 1938. On this occasion, and for the first time, Lucy Wills travelled by air to Karachi and onwards by sea.

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