OM, RRC |
Born | 12 May 1820
Florence, Tuscany |
Died | 13 August 1910 (aged 90)
Park Lane, London, United Kingdom |
Nationality | British |
Institutions | Selimiye Barracks, Scutari
King's College London |
Known for | Pioneering modern nursing |
Notable awards | Royal Red Cross (1883)
Lady of Grace of the Order of St John (LGStJ)
Order of Merit (1907) |
Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, in Florence, Italy. She was the younger of two children. Nightingale's affluent British family belonged to elite social circles. Her mother, Frances Nightingale, hailed from a family of merchants and took ...view middle of the document...
William's mother Mary née Evans was the niece of Peter Nightingale, under the terms of whose will William inherited his estate at Lea Hurst, and assumed the name and arms of Nightingale. Fanny's father (Florence's maternal grandfather) was theabolitionist and Unitarian William Smith. Nightingale's father educated her.
In 1838, her father took the family on a tour in Europe where he was introduced to the English-born Parisian hostess Mary Clarke, with whom Florence bonded. She recorded that "Clarkey" was a stimulating hostess who did not care for her appearance, and while her ideas did not always agree with those of her guests, "she was incapable of boring anyone." Her behaviour was said to be exasperating and eccentric and she had no respect for upper-class British women, whom she regarded generally as inconsequential. She said that if given the choice between being a woman or a galley slave, then she would choose the freedom of the galleys. She generally rejected female company and spent her time with male intellectuals. However, Clarkey made an exception in the case of the Nightingale family and Florence in particular. She and Florence were to remain close friends for 40 years despite their 27-year age difference. Clarke demonstrated that women could be equals to men, an idea that Florence had not obtained from her mother.
Nightingale underwent the first of several experiences that she believed were calls from God in February 1837 while at Embley Park, prompting a strong desire to devote her life to the service of others. In her youth she was respectful of her family's opposition to her working as a nurse, only announcing her decision to enter the field in 1844. Despite the intense anger and distress of her mother and sister, she rebelled against the expected role for a woman of her status to become a wife and mother. Nightingale worked hard to educate herself in the art and science of nursing, in the face of opposition from her family and the restrictive social code for affluent young English women.[
Marriage and Lost
As a young woman, Nightingale was attractive, slender and graceful. While her demeanour was often severe, she could be very charming and her smile was radiant. Her most persistent suitor was the politician and poet Richard Monckton Milnes, but after a nine-year courtship she rejected him, convinced that marriage would interfere with her ability to follow her calling to nursing.
In Rome in 1847, she met Sidney Herbert, a politician who had been Secretary at War (1845–1846) who was on his honeymoon. He and Nightingale became lifelong close friends. Herbert would be Secretary of War again during the Crimean War, when he and his wife would be instrumental in facilitating Nightingale's nursing work in the Crimea. She became Herbert's key adviser throughout his political career, though she was accused by some of having hastened Herbert's death from Bright's Disease in 1861 because of the pressure her programme of...