• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE6471

Burnell, Mary Taylor (Angel)

(1907 – 1996)
  • Born 21 February, 1907, Norwood South Australia Australia
  • Died 25 August, 1996
  • Occupation Anaesthetist, Medical practitioner


After completing her formal schooling Mary Taylor Burnell (Angel) enrolled in a Bachelor of Science degree at Adelaide University. Two years later she transferred to medicine, graduating MB BS in 1931.

Burnell began her career as Resident Medical Officer at Adelaide Children’s Hospital, becoming Honorary Anaesthetist in 1934. During this period, she became the first woman member of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) and secretary for the South Australian section.

She resigned from the Children’s Hospital in 1937 but maintained private practice with her surgeon husband. During WWII she returned to public work as her anaesthetic expertise was required at both the Children’s Hospital and Royal Adelaide Hospital. She continued working at both hospitals after the war.

Burnell was the first woman elected as ASA President in 1935. She was a Foundation Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1952 and in 1955 was elected to the Board of the Faculty of Anaesthetists.

In 1966 she was elected Dean of the Faculty of Anaesthetists. She was the first woman to hold this position, and possibly the first woman in the world to be elected Dean of a specialty medical college’s faculty.

Mary Burnell resigned from public work in 1968, and from private practice in 1969.