Dr. Halliday Sutherland

"Dr. Halliday Sutherland is a born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better” – G.K. Chesterton

“The Trial of Marie Stopes” by Muriel Box

Box Trial

In the “HGS Watch” section of the site, I select the more egregiously inaccurate things written about Halliday Sutherland. What is alarming is that books which purport to be “historical” and “factual” are often poorly researched and their assertions are poorly founded.

One such example is the The Trial of Marie Stopes by Muriel Box. The book contains the transcript of the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial of February 1923. It is hard to fault the accuracy of that record, but Box’s introduction is nonsensical. For instance, according to Box, Stopes:

…was on trial not only for her freedom, but everything she had worked for and achieved during her professional career.


Did Box really believe that Stopes’ achievement in relation to the classification of coal, which had culminated in the “Monograph on the constitution of coal” in 1918, was somehow threatened by her legal action against Sutherland? Or that following the loss of the trial, her work on coal balls would be disregarded?

And, if it were true, how was it that Stopes lost the case, yet remained free and continued her career?

The answer is that much of what Box wrote was a fantastical victim-narrative.

Box was best known as an accomplished screenplay writer (she had won an Oscar for “Best Writing, Original Screenplay” in 1946). In her introduction, Box applied her storytelling skills to great effect, but it is not historical nor factual. For the full article on why The Trial of Marie Stopes earned the accolade of a place in the HGS Watch section of hallidaysutherland.com, click here.

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Centenary of the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial

February 21st, 2023
4.5 years to go.