Previous page  
List of subjects |  Sources |  Feedback 

Share |

Discover in a free
daily email today's famous
history and birthdays

Enjoy the Famous Daily

Florence Nightingale: 1854-1860

When the Crimean War begins, in March 1854, Florence Nightingale is an upper-class woman in her thirties who has gone against her family's wishes and against popular prejudice (nurses being seen as little better than prostitutes) to adopt a career in nursing. She is in charge of a small hospital in Harley Street when news comes, in Russell's reports for the Times, of the appalling conditions in the British military hospital at Scutari.

At much the same time a family friend, Sidney Herbert (secretary of state for war at the time), suggests that she should take charge of the nursing effort in the war zone. She arrives at Scutari with thirty-eight nurses in November 1854, just before the battle of Inkerman.

Florence Nightingale transforms the nursing facilities at Scutari and in doing so becomes immensely popular among the British soldiers. Her nightly visits to all the wards provide the almost saintly phrase by which she becomes known - 'the lady with the lamp'.

Reports of her work spread her fame back to London, where public enthusiasm results in the large sum of 45,000 being raised as a testimonial to her. She uses the money to establish in 1860 the Nightingale training school for nurses in St Thomas's hospital in London. The arrival at the school of the first fifteen probationers, in July of that year, is widely regarded as the start of modern nursing.

Previous page