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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Mother Hutton

Flourished 18th century, England

Mother Hutton, referred to as the “old woman in Shropshire” in her day, was a country herbalist pharmacist. She is credited with the discovery of digitalis, a treatment for heart conditions, which contained some twenty herbs, including the foxglove plant. It was a male doctor, however, named William Withering (1741–1799), who purchased the herb decoction from Mother Hutton, analyzed its components, and published a famous book entitled An Account of the Foxglove in 1785. He describes his meeting with Mother Hutton in the book.