Maria Elisabeth Dickin (1870–1951), founder of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), known by her friends as Mia, was born at 1 Farrington Terrace, South Hackney, on 22 September 1870.
Daughter of William George Dickin (d. in or before 1899), Wesleyan minister, and his wife, Ellen Maria, née Exell. Maria was the eldest of their eight children, and to supplement the family's slender income she established a voice production studio in Wimpole Street.
On 1 September 1899 she married—at the parish church of St John the Evangelist, Westminster—her first cousin Arnold Francis Dickin (b. 1874/5), son of Henry Dickin. Her husband was an accountant living at 4 Orlando Road, Clapham.
The 1901 census found the couple living at 12 Mount Nod Road, Streatham, with one servant, and described Arnold Dickin as 'accountants' articled clerk' and Mia as 'professor of singing'. She later gave up her studio to keep house in Hampstead Heath; they had no children.
By 1950 the PDSA was providing in Britain a regular service in 207 communities, not to mention its animal ambulances and hospitals and its five homes for stray dogs.