Florence Nightingale :- Early Life, Crimean War, Contributions, Awards And Death

Florence Nightingale - biography 


BORN – 12 May 1820

DIED -13 August 1910


Florence Nightingale was best known for her contributions to nursing as well as statistics. She was a gallant woman who glorified the role of women nurses. She came to light during the Crimean War in which she aided the wounded soldiers. Florence changed the concept of the profession of nursing from untrained to highly skilled and relevant to the field of medicine. In 1860, Florence also established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale School for Nurses.


Early Life and Her Determination




Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820, into a wealthy and upper-class British family. She was the daughter of William Edward Nightingale and Frances Nightingale nee Smith. William’s mother was the niece of Peter Nightingale upon whose terms William took up his estate as well as the name of Nightingale. They moved back to London in 1821. Florence, named after her place of birth (Florence, Tuscany, Italy) inherited a humanitarian nature. She was educated by her father. He once took her on a trip to Europe and there she met a Parisian Hostess named Mary Clarke who never gave any thought to upper-class British women and thought them inconsequential but she bonded with Florence and the latter was immensely influenced by Clarke’s ideas of how women could be equal to men which roused in her a new spark of resistance and determination to work.

Nightingale first had a strong desire to devote her life in service of others at Embley Park in 1837 where she was certain to have received calls from God. In her days of youth, Florence did respect her family’s opposition to her working but in 1844, she finally entered the working field despite her family’s opposition and rebelling against the society’s notion of what was to become of a cultured and accomplished young woman. She went ahead and educated herself in the art and science of nursing.

Florence was said to be a graceful lady and despite her hard demeanor she was said to behold a charming personality. Her most prominent relationship was said to be with a politician and a poet Richard Monckton Mines, a nine yearlong courtship that she ended because she felt it would interfere with her purpose of social service. She further traveled to Greece and Egypt and many more places and wrote voraciously. Her writings of Egypt are a symbol of her philosophy of life. She visited various temples in the Nile as well as Thebes where she again felt God be calling for her and wrote in her diary “God called me in the morning and asked me would I do good for him alone without a reputation”. When she visited the Lutheran religious community and watched Pastor Theodor Fliedner working for the good of sick and deprived. She termed it as a turning point in her life upon which she joined The Institute of Kaiserswerth where she underwent four months of medical training and wrote a book named The Institute of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine. In 1853, she joined the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen as a superintendent in London which she retained as long as 1854. The annual income of $65,000 given to her by her father allowed her to live comfortably. 

Crimean War and The Lady With The Lamp 


During the Crimean War (between Russian Forces and the alliance of Ottoman Empire, Britain, France, Sardinia: From 1853 to 1856) when reports went to Britain about horrific situation of soldiers and a very high death rate, Florence along with 38 other staff members was sent to care for the wounded soldiers to the main British camp across the Black Sea in Baklava, Crimea. When Florence went there she found out the unhygienic conditions that the soldiers were suffering is due to unattended sewers, poor living conditions and lack of nutrition supplies and many more which caused many diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, etc. resulting in many casualties. She wrote to The Times and also the Government for help when they sent Isambard Kingdom Brunel to design a prefabricated hospital that resulted in the huge decline in the death rates as much as 1/10th.  Many believe that her contributions were exaggerated by the media at the time but critics argue that she was not only a big help but also a soulful presence to the soldiers when at night she used to visit each wounded with a lamp in her hands. The phrase attributed to her ‘The Lady with the Lamp’ was made even more famous after Henry Wadsworth’s poem ‘Santa Filomena’.

Lo! In that house of every misery 

A lady with a lamp I see 

Pass through the glimmering gloom,

And flit from room to room.


Legacy of Florence Nightingale


During Florence’s stay at the British camp a Nightingale Fund was set up in order to honor her for the work that she did there and which garnered such generous donations that by the end of 1855 Florence had nearly $50000 to establish Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital on July 9, 1860, where the first batch of nurses graduated in 1865 and began working in Liverpool Workhouse Infirmary. Now known as The Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery it is a part of King’s College London. She also wrote Notes on Nursing in 1859 which has served as the curriculum at Nightingale School as well as other Nursing schools. In the 1870s during the Civil War in America, she also trained Linda Richards ‘America’s First Trained Nurse’ and sent her back to America to establish good nursing schools. Richards also went on to become a prominent face in nursing in America and Japan.


Honors And Awards


Nightingale became the first recipient of Royal Red Cross in 1883. She was appointed as The Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John in 1904. She was the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. She was also attributed with Honorary Freedom of the City of London. Her birthday (May 12) is now also celebrated as International CFS Awareness Day as well as International Nurses Day


Contributions Made By Nightingale in Various Fields 


Due to the excellent tutelage of her father Nightingale had a natural flair of mathematics. She became a pioneer in the visual representation of information and statistical graphs. Many of her statistical methods such as the Polar Area Diagram OR also known as Nightingale Rose diagram are still used to illustrate patient mortality in military camps as well as hospitals. She was elected as the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society in 1859 and an honorary member of the American Statistical Association in 1874. She did a comprehensive study of mortality rate at military camps to raise this issue with the higher-ups as during her own stay at the camps she had felt that a lot of neglect happened due to unawareness of the reality of the soldiers’ living conditions.

Nightingale is also a symbol of English Feminism as she always struggled in the society who had different expectations from women at the time. Lytton Strachey in his book praised her in a way that raised her reputation as an icon of English Feminists. She also wrote a 16 volume project in which she rejected the life of comfort over social service.



Florence Nightingale statue in london - birth, death- story



From 1857 onwards she suffered from depression and was bedridden. She worked very little in her late years due to weak eyesight and declining mental abilities. Nightingale died on August 13, 1910, at the age of 90, peacefully in her sleep. She is buried in the graveyard of St. Margaret’s Church in East Wellow, Hampshire near Embley Park. A memorial monument has been built in Carrera marble by Francis William Sargant in 1913 and placed in Florence, her birthplace. The NIGHTINGALE who soothed many with her work now rests in peace.



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