Florence Nightingale wrote a book

BiographiesFlorence Nightingale

born on May 12, 1820 in Florence
died on August 13, 1910 in London

British social reformer, pioneer in professional nursing, statistics and epidemiology
110th anniversary of death on August 13, 2020

Biography • Literature & Sources


Florence Nightingale, the legendary Lady of the Lamp, was initially famous for caring for British soldiers during the Crimean War (1853-1856) and later for her leadership in making nursing a profession for women. But while her earlier accomplishments were romanticized by the media of her day - she became a national hero at the age of 36 - her accomplishments in later years far surpassed nurse training. A restless reformer and talented mathematician with a sense of administrative analysis, Nightingale made important contributions in areas such as statistics, military and public hygiene, and epidemiology in England and British India. Though herself the epitome of an independent woman in the feminist sense of today, Nightingale himself remained ambivalent about the goals of the women's movement of her day.

Daughters of a wealthy but liberal Unitarian family, Florence and her older sister Parthenope received an education that was usually reserved for boys. Her father, William Nightingale, was a Cambridge graduate and taught Latin, Greek, German, French, Italian, math, history and philosophy himself. The sisters accompanied their mother, Fanny Smith Nightingale, as she cared for the sick villagers, and as a result young Florence developed a strong ethos of community service. In 1837 she also experienced the first of several (as she saw it) calls from God to devote her life to the service of others. For herself, she turned down the role envisaged for upper-class women: marrying and immersing themselves in social life. So she turned down more than one acceptable suitor. Nighingale's early essay Cassandra (1852) is a brilliant criticism of the Victorian ideal of passive and dependent femininity and has been described as “a major text of British feminism”, “the link between Wollstonecraft and Woolf” (Showalter).

Despite parents' opposition to their desire to serve their neighbors, Nightingale determinedly sought ways to learn how to nurse. Traveling with her family and friends, she became acquainted with nursing models in France and Germany, where religious orders offered training and career opportunities for nurses that were still unknown in England. Nightingale himself went through a short period of training in the deaconess institution in Kaiserswerth near Düsseldorf. In 1843 her parents finally gave in, and Nightingale took an unpaid job as administrator of a “ladies” hospital; for this she got a salary of 500 pounds a year from her father.

When the news of the catastrophic misery of the sick and wounded British soldiers in the Crimean War sparked public outrage on the home front, Nightingale was sent with a contingent of 38 nurses to the military hospitals of Scutari (now Üsküdar, a district of Istanbul) in October 1954 . She turned the chaos into order and ensured that the soldiers were adequately cared for, which had not been possible until then because of the cumbersome bureaucracy. She also successfully took on the unruly medical service. Nighingale achieved an enormous propaganda victory through their efforts, immediately became famous - and has remained so to this day. However, recent historical research has shown that the death rate - with far more deaths from disease than from war wounds - was higher in her hospital than in other sick camps in the region. The dying only subsided when a commission from England cleaned the clogged sewers and brought about more hygienic conditions six months after Nightingale's arrival.

Back in England, Nightingale analyzed death statistics and concluded that adequate sanitation is key to saving lives. This insight was to inspire her reform efforts in the following decades.

Nightingale had returned to England in 1856 as a sick woman - for years she had to stay in bed again and again. Historians now suspect that she suffered from brucellosis, a highly contagious disease that is contracted by drinking unpasteurized milk or eating half-cooked meat from infected animals. But despite her illness, Nightingale continued her work, collecting and analyzing vast amounts of data and using her many connections to "leading circles" to bring about fundamental changes in the hospital system.

A foundation had been set up to enable Nightingale to continue training nurses, and in 1860 their School of Nursing was opened at St. Thomas Hospital, London. It became the model for the training of nurses for national service in hospitals and was the starting point for the professionalization of the subject. Nightingales Notes on nursing of 1859 (a handbook of nursing, not just for nurses) is still read today. In total, she wrote over 200 books and articles.

Nightingale's insight into the vital role of hygiene in caring for the sick led to fundamental reforms in British military medicine, hospitals and the health system in general, particularly in the welfare of the poor. Thanks to her analyzes and her advocacy, medical care and social conditions in India also improved, where she campaigned against famine and the exploitation of the peasants.

Nightingale's reforms relied on her extraordinary knowledge of statistics, an area in which she was a pioneer and which she applied with particular success to epidemiology. For example, she developed a tool called “polar area diagram” that graphically displays statistical data and used it to document the death rates of soldiers in the Crimean War. In 1858 she became the first woman to become a member of the Royal Statistical Society.

Although she originally opposed training women to be doctors (she believed they would turn out to be incompetent), that view softened over time, and at the end of her life she had two doctors at her side. Nightingale supported women's suffrage but didn't think it would do much. In 1870, however, she allied herself with other early feminists against the Contagious Diseases Act, a law that punished prostitutes and spared male suitors.
(Text from 2019)

Additions by Evelyn Thriene:

Another aspect of their dedicated life is less well known. From early youth, Nightingale showed an extraordinary talent for mathematics. She was particularly fond of statistics. Nightingale is considered a pioneer in the use of statistical tools in epidemiology. Her analyzes of the public health system are top achievements of her time, for example her work on the sanitary conditions in rural India. She proved her extensive knowledge of statistics with the invention of the “polar area diagram”, which she used, among other things, to document the medical care of British soldiers during the Crimean War. Since then she has been considered a pioneer in the visual representation of mathematical-statistical relationships.

Nightingale served as a health care advisor to the UK government. On their behalf, she developed a statistical method for the systematic survey of the population, the birth and death rates and the causes of death. Her achievement was rewarded: in 1858, Florence Nightingale became the first woman to be appointed to the Royal Statistical Society. She later received honorary membership in the American Statistical Association.

Nightingale made her wide-ranging experience available to an interested public in the “Notes on Hospitals”. Their nursing principles can be found in the “Notes on Nursing” (published in 1859 and 1860). Both are still alive today in nursing practice.

With the upgrading of nursing by Florence Nightingale, it was finally elevated to the profession in England. For many women, this opened up a great opportunity to take up a respected profession. Nightingale gained increasing authority: She had a special influence on the Swiss philanthropist Henri Dunant (1828-1910), who subsequently founded the Red Cross. The World Association of Nurses and Nurses declared Nightingale's birthday to be the official “Nursing Day” in 1867.

Florence Nightingale became increasingly famous and influential abroad. Following their advice, hospitals and nursing homes were set up all over the world. Since, in addition to nursing the sick, she also took care of social needs, social work also goes back to her initiative. Their pioneering work brought non-denominational social services to England.

Her work was recognized in the highest circles: in 1907 she received the royal order of merit. In honor of her work, the “Florence Nightingale Medal” was finally awarded. (Text from 2010)

•••••••• Sources used by Evelyn Thriene:

Numerous articles in the medical database Pubmed, Washington, including the publications of Dr. Helen Betts

More information on Florence Nightingale as a scientist and statistician:

Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Florence Nightingale

American Statistical Association, Florence Nightingale

JSTOR, David J. Spiegelhalter “Surgical audit: statistical lessons from Nightingale and Codman”

I. Bernhard Cohen, Scientific American, 250 (3): 128-137, March 1984

Author: Joey Horsley

Literature & sources




I am probably the founder of the Red Cross and the creator of the Geneva Convention. But I have to share the honor that I have received because of it with an English woman. What made me go to Italy to the battlefield of Solferino during the war of 1859 and help there was the great example that Florence Nightingale had given us in the Crimea.

(Henri Dunant, found here)

Nursing is not vacation work. It is an art and - if it is to become an art - demands just as great dedication and just as serious preparation as the work of a painter or sculptor, because what does working on a dead canvas or cold marble mean in comparison to working on a living body , the temple for the Spirit of God? Nursing is one of the most beautiful arts, I almost said the most beautiful of all arts.

(Florence Nightingale, found here)




Florence Nightingale Museum (go to link)

Florence Nightingale International Foundation (go to link)

Orvieto, Laura (1943): Florence Nightingale. I am your maid and you are my master. Legitimate translation from Italian by Lola Lorme. Published by Verlag Oprecht, New York, 1943. Full text. (Go to link)

Probst, Ernst (2006): Florence Nightingale: England's Meritorious Nurse. Biography. biographies news. (Go to link)

Schumann, Frank (1993): NIGHTINGALE, Florence. Entry in the Biographical-Bibliographical Church Lexicon. (Go to link)

SPIEGEL WISSEN encyclopedia, Wikipedia and SPIEGEL archive: NIGHTINGALE, Florence. Biography and references. (Go to link)

Wikipedia: Florence Nightingale. Biography, literature, links. (Go to link)

Please note that linked pages on the Internet may be changed frequently and that you must check the factual correctness of the information provided there yourself.

Last link check carried out on May 4th, 2009 (AN)





Baly, Monica Eileen (1986): Florence Nightingale and the nursing legacy. London. Croom helmet. ISBN 0-7099-3941-8. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Dengler, Sandy (1988): Florence Nightingale. Nurse to soldiers. Fictionalized biography. Chicago. Moody Press. ISBN 0-8024-2627-1. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Fiedler-Winter, Rosemarie (1967): Angels need hard hands. From the work of important women. Dusseldorf. Econ. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Gilbert, Sandra Mortola; Gubar, Susan (1985): The Norton anthology of literature by women. The tradition in English. New York. Norton. ISBN 0393953912. (Amazon search | Eurobook search | WorldCat search)

Gordon, Richard (1979): The private life of Florence Nightingale. New York. Atheneum. ISBN 0689109296. (Eurobook search | WorldCat search)

Nightingale, Florence (1918): Cassandra. An essay. Old Westbury. Feminist Press. 1979. ISBN 0-912670-55-X. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Nightingale, Florence (1990): Ever yours, Florence Nightingale. Selected letters. . Edited by Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard Cambridge. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-27020-7. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Smith, Francis Barrymore (1982): Florence Nightingale. Reputation and power. New York. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312296495. (Amazon search | Eurobook search | WorldCat search)

Strachey, Lytton (1918): Eminent Victorians. Cardinal Manning, Dr. Arnold, Florence Nightingale, General Gordon. New York. Modern Library. 1933. (The modern library of the world's best books) (Eurobuch search | WorldCat search)

Further reading (selection of German-language books)Note: This is not literaturerecommendations, but the titles published on the topic - without any judgment on our part.

Färber, Werner (2009): Who was Florence Nightingale? Berlin. Jacoby & Stuart. ISBN 978-3-941087-19-4. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Friz, J. (2007): Florence Nightingale. Heroine of service. Paderborn. Voltmedia. ISBN 3-938478-26-8. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Genschorek, Wolfgang (1990): Sister Florence Nightingale. Triumph of humanity. Leipzig. Hirzel; Teubner. (Humanists indeed) ISBN 3-322-00327-2. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Geppert, Ursula (1999): Women stand by their husbands. Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Beate Paulus, Eva von Tiele-Winckler. Lahr. Publishing house of the Liebenzeller Mission. (Telos documentation, 7785: TELOS pocket books) ISBN 3-88002-669-6. (WorldCat search)

Jackson, Dave; Jackson, Neta (2000): Florence Nightingale. The battle of the drummer. (=The drummer boy's battle) Youth book. Translated into German by G. Erkens. Bielefeld. CLV. (Adventurer of God) ISBN 3-89397-435-0. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Kruczek, Dietmar (2005): Helen Keller - Florence Nightingale. Magdeburg. Docupoint. (Women of History, 2) ISBN 3-938142-43-X. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Nightingale, Florence (2005): Notes on Nursing. (=Notes on nursing) The "Notes on nursing" newly translated and commented by Christoph Schweikardt and Susanne Schulze-Jaschok. Frankfurt am Main. Mabuse publishing house. ISBN 3-935964-79-X. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Vasold, Manfred (2003): Florence Nightingale. A woman fighting for humanity. Regensburg. Blow. ISBN 3-7917-1849-5. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Vossen, Carl (1986): Florence Nightingale. Beloved Kaiserswerth. For the 150th anniversary of the Diakoniewerk Kaiserswerth 1836 - 1986. Düsseldorf. High. ISBN 3-7779-0386-8. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

Wellman, Sam (2002): Florence Nightingale - He heals all of her wounds. (=Florence Nightingale) Translated into German by Lotte Bormuth. Marburg on the Lahn. Francke. ISBN 3-86122-533-6. (Amazon Search | Eurobook Search | WorldCat Search)

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