On 25 January 1849, Punch responded to an event that took place in upstate New York with a rhyme about 'excellent Miss Blackwell!'. On that day, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first modern woman to earn a degree from a recognised medical college. For an immigrant Englishwoman with neither money nor connections this was no mean achievement. But Elizabeth was a determined woman, who did not flinch from difficult issues. As a 'doctress', she addressed taboo subjects such as venereal disease, prostitution and masturbation. Deciding early on not to get married, she still sought a family and in 1854 adopted an orphan. Yet, despite her own achievements and close friendships with many of the leaders of the Suffragist movement, she discouraged her own daughter's ambitions. Conversely, her friendship with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, inspired Anderson to become England's first woman doctor. With friends such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Kingsley, George Eliot and an argumentative relationship with Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Blackwell was one of the foremost women of her time. This new biography uncovers the life of this remarkable, complex, controversial and pioneering woman doctor whose vision and sheer guts in the face of enormous odds changed social history.