Nightingale was fluent in English, French, German, and Italian.
Despite her parents objections, she chose to pursue nursing at a young age.
Nightingale refused to get married.
She had 38 nurses working under her during the Crimean war
She frequently wrote letters home on behalf of dying or dead soldiers.
Inspirational Quotes from Florence Nightingale:
“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”
“If I could give you information of my life it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led by God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all, and I nothing. I have worked hard, very hard, that is all; and I have never refused God anything.”
“Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.”
Florence was born to a wealthy family on May 12, 1820 in the Italian city of Florence.
Her parents owned a winter house in Hampshire and a summer house in Derbyshire. Florence (‘Flo’) and her older sister Parthenope (‘Pop’) could travel and wear expensive clothes.
Their father was William Nightingale, a rich banker. He taught his daughters subjects girls did not normally study, such as mathematics, philosophy, Italian and history.
Florence was very clever and gifted at maths.
Florence and her sister as young children
Training as a nurse
When Florence was 24, she told her family she wanted to become a nurse. She felt inspired by God to help others. Her parents were horrified. Hospitals in Victorian Britain were not nice places, and nurses were poor. Wealthy ladies did not get their hands dirty! Florence disliked how rich women had leisurely lives like her mother, Frances Nightingale.
Determined to work hard, Florence went to Egypt in 1850 to study nursing. In 1851 she trained to be a nurse in Germany.
She refused to get married, thinking it would interfere with her work. In 1853, Florence had her first job in a hospital in London, when she took the post of superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street
A special request
he Crimean War began in 1854 while Florence was working at in London. England,France and Turkey were fighting together against Russia.
The British public was angry that soldiers were dying in an overcrowded Army hospital that was built on top of a cesspit and full of rats.
The Minister for War, Sidney Herbert, was Florence’s friend. He thought she could help in the hospital and arranged for her to go there with a group of nurses.
Soldiers were dying in huge numbers from diseases like cholera and typhoid. Florence set to work improving hygiene conditions, cleaning soldiers’ wounds and bed sheets. Like most people at the time, she knew little about how infectious diseases spread.
A sanitary commission visited the hospital in 1855. It flushed out the sewers and improved the hospital’s ventilation system. This helped get rid of germs and bacteria.
Florence the statistician
Newspaper reports about the ‘angel’ at Scutari made Florence a celebrity. But when she returned from the war in 1857 she did not care about being famous.
She was concentrating on writing a report. The data she had collected at Scutari showed that out of 18000 soldiers, 16000 had died from infectious diseases, and they had caught these diseases inside the hospital!
The data also showed that more soldiers survived when the sanitary commission improved sanitation in the hospital. Putting her mathematical mind into action, Florence created a diagram to show her statistics about the soldiers clearly on paper.
Now known as the Rose Diagram, it shocked the government and British Army into making important changes in hospitals. From then on, fewer people would die, and the US Army successfully used Florence’s ideas during the American Civil War.
Florence the pioneer
In 1860, Florence opened a nursing school at St Thomas’s Hospital in London.
Nurses trained there were known as Nightingale Nurses. They took the ‘Nightingale Pledge’ and spread Florence’s caring methods at home and in other countries.
Florence’s book, ‘Notes on Nursing,’ advised people how to care for the sick. It was written in simple language so that everybody could understand it.
Florence even investigated how to improve living conditions for starving people in India.
In 1883, she was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria for her work. She then became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit, from King Edward VII in 1907.
On August 13, 1910, Florence died; bedridden because of an infection caught in the Crimea.
Florence Nightingale improved medical care for everybody and inspired others to become nurses like her. This is how she turned nursing into a respectable profession.
Because Florence did not discriminate between different social classes or religions, her ideas and kindness united people all over the world.
Florence Nightingale as the Lady with the Lamp by J. Butterworth
Become a Lottie Super Fan!
- Be the first to hear about new Lottie Dolls
- Help to inspire the latest Lottie Dolls & accessories
- Suggest new ideas & activities you'd love to see
- Take part in exclusive launch team competitions
Keep Active Young Minds Engaged
Sign up for FREE Printable Activities delivered straight to your inbox.