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Margaret Myles


1892 - 1988

Midwife and educator, who was revered in Scotland and respected internationally. Born in Aberdeen, the daughter of a house-painter, Myles emigrated to Canada soon after leaving school and became engaged to a Canadian farmer. While he fought in France during the First World War, she trained as a nurse in Saskatchewan. They married in 1919 but he died soon after and Myles returned to Aberdeen to raise their child. She trained as a midwife, working in Alford (Aberdeenshire), but her son died of pneumonia in 1924 and she moved to Edinburgh to further her training at the Royal Infirmary there.

Aware that infant mortality was a significant problem, she saw the importance of formal midwifery training and was determined to pass on her skills to others. She studied education at McGill University (Montreal), and subsequently worked in Detroit and Philadelphia. She returned to Scotland and, in 1939, took the position of midwifery tutor in the new Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion in Edinburgh.

She wrote for a number of professional journals, but Myles is best known for her ground-breaking book Textbook for Midwives, which achieved extraordinary success. The first edition appeared in 1953, the year before she retired. She produced nine further editions, each kept up-to-date with the latest developments and best practice. The book was translated into many languages and remains in print, now in its fourteenth edition (2003). Myles travelled widely to promote her cause.

She died in Banchory and her funeral was held at Aberdeen Crematorium.


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