Lilian Violet Cooper was a medical practitioner in Queensland, Australia. She was the first female doctor registered in Queensland. During WWI Cooper volunteered with the Scottish Women's Hospital Service after was she was turned down by the Australian Army as female doctors were not wanted. She assisted people on the front line in France and Serbia and was in charge of the ambulance division, with all female drivers (including her close friend Mary Josephine Bedford). Operating in tents close to the front line, Cooper was later awarded the Order of St Sava from the Serbian King for her wartime efforts. Mary Josephine Bedford was a philanthropist in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, who was involved in family welfare and children's development through her involvement with the Playground Association and the Crèche and Kindergarten Association. She was awarded the Order of St Sava for her services as an ambulance driver in WWI. Mary Josephine Bedford was born in 1861 in England. In her student days, she shared accommodation with Lilian Cooper, who became her lifelong friend and companion. They immigrated to Brisbane together in 1891. It is reported on the blog-page Lesbians in 1900 Brisbane that, following the death of Dr Cooper, Josephine Bedford offered their Kangaroo Point home to the Anglican Church next door, St Mary's. Apparently the offer was refused. Bedford then offered the property to the Sisters of Charity, a Catholic order, who accepted the donation, which was to be used to care for the sick and dying. This property was the forerunner of the well-known Mount Olivet hospice, now St Vincent's. The blog Jottings postulates that the stained-glass windows that were donated to St Mary's Anglican by Bedford in memory of Cooper may contain homosexual symbolism. The final, moving piece to this story is the grave-site of the two women, who are buried together in Toowong Cemetery; on the top, Dr Cooper's headstone, and underneath it that of Josephine Bedford, with the inscriptions “Life-long friend of the above”.
Timeline & Places:
• 1861: born.
• 1880s: attended Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, Gower St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6BT, Regno Unito
• 1900s: lived at The Mansions, 70 George St, Brisbane City QLD 4000, Australia, sharing with Lilian Violet Cooper
• 1900s: lived at St Mary, 455 Main St, Kangaroo Point QLD 4169, Australia, sharing with Lilian Violet Cooper
• December 22, 1955: died. Buried at Toowong Cemetery, Frederick St & Mount Coot Tha Road, Toowong QLD 4066, Australia. Buried alongside: Lilian Violet Cooper (August 11, 1861 – August 18, 1947).