A high calling the florence nightingale story

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A high calling the florence nightingale story

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Print this page Historical figure The common soldier's saviour, the ideological leader of nursing reform, and a pioneering social reformer besides, Florence Nightingale - is arguably the most famous Victorian after Queen Victoria herself. She belongs to that select band of historical characters who are instantly recognisable: As a woman, too, she is almost unique in that her fame and legend elude the normal categorisations in which women up to her time had achieved immortality: She belongs to that select band of historical characters who are instantly recognisable She is a nationally sanctioned heroine.

Until very recently she was the only woman, alongside the male personalities of Newton, Wellington and Dickens, whose image had ever adorned our paper currency. In short, as the historian Raphael Samuel once wrote, she is one of the 'stock images' of our island story.

Why then does her true significance continue to elude us? Generations have been raised on the sentimentalised story of her time as a nurse during the Crimean War, fighting the obstructive army and medical officials to ensure that the sick and wounded were nursed in civilised conditions, and with proper care.

But comparatively few of us are aware of the importance of that story's sequel: Top Romantic myth A large part of the problem, of course, is the persistence of the romantic myth about the ministering angel of Scutari.

Few individuals in their own lifetime - and in such a comparatively short period of it, too - have achieved the level of adulation, fame and stature that Nightingale did. By the age of 35 she had already been the object of the most extraordinary outpouring of adoration.

She returned from the Crimea in and chose to live and work for the next half-century in almost complete seclusion, a decision which only further cemented her legendary status. The myth has to a very large extent obscured the fact that Nightingale's Crimea experience was only the prelude to her more important postwar career.

It has prevented us from assessing accurately her achievement at Scutari; when examined closely, the accepted doctrine that she saved soldiers' lives in her hospital suddenly dissolves before our eyes.

And it has also allowed us to forget that Nightingale's priority on returning from the Crimea was not the reform of civilian nursing in Britain, but rather a thorough overhaul of the health of the army in peacetime.

COLLECTIONS

It is arguable that the British Army owes far more to Nightingale than nursing in this country does. True, as the standard-bearer of nursing, she played a decisive role in transforming nursing into a profession for single women of impeccable moral standards; but her actual strictures on hospital care were part of a much broader attempt to formulate a policy on public health through the adoption of better sanitation.

Top Personal archive Another part of the problem in coming to lasting conclusions about Florence Nightingale is the sheer scale of the materials involved. The enormous collection at the British Library - the second largest personal archive after Gladstone's - is just the tip of the iceberg.

At least 14, letters are known to survive, along with printed publications, and hundreds of private notes and memoranda. The scale of the material is one reason why, up to now, there has been no authoritative, fully documented biography.

Sir Edward Cook's two-volume Life, published inis still the best biography, despite the popularity of Cecil Woodham-Smith's Florence Nightingale, which appeared in Future biographers will be helped by a large-scale project which begins publication this year Dr Lynn McDonald's projected volume abridged edition of Nightingale's works will help to clarify the reformer's thoughts on such diverse subjects as religion, the army, the use of statistics of which she was a pioneerhospitals, women, nursing education, Poor Law reform and so on.

The weight of material combines with Nightingale's long life - in 60 years of active life she understandably changed her mind many times - making her a difficult person to pin down on a definitive point of view. And she remains, above all, a creature of paradox: Top Early life Florence Nightingale inherited a liberal-humanitarian outlook from both sides of her family.

Her mother's father had sat in the House of Commons for almost half a century as an abolitionist, while Florence's father, William Edward Nightingale, who had inherited an enormous fortune from his uncle, fought hard for the reform of Parliament before settling down to the life of a country gentleman on his estates at Lea Hurst in Derbyshire, and Embley Park in Hampshire.

Florence, born in the city of that name inand her older sister Parthenope, benefited from their father's advanced ideas about women's education.

A high calling the florence nightingale story

They studied history, mathematics, Italian, classical literature and philosophy, and from an early age Florence, who was the more academic of the two girls, displayed an extraordinary ability for collecting and analysing data which she would use to great effect in later life.

Although, by earlyth-century standards, Nightingale had been given a man's education, she was confined by the conventions of the day, which decreed that, as an upper-middle-class woman, she should spend most of her time in frivolous pursuits and domestic routines.

Florence struggled hard to find fulfilment, against the opposition of her family. She felt frustrated by the suffocating existence which denied her the use of her intelligence and energy and which, on several occasions, drove her to the edge of breakdown.

Florence's family, who shared the prevalent view that nursing was a disreputable occupation for someone from their background, were appalled at her decision, and bitterly opposed her.

In her parents refused to allow her to nurse at Salisbury Infirmary, but Florence did manage to spend two periods at the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses at Kaiserwerth in Germany, and later visited hospitals in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Paris, amassing details of hospital conditions and nursing methods.

Finally, inshe won her independence - and a small income from her father - by being appointed Superintendant of the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in Harley Street. The torture of Nightingale's early years was undoubtedly responsible for the streak of steely ruthlessness that had entered her character.

A high calling the florence nightingale story

She was graceful, slender, appealing to look at, and she could be charming when the occasion required; but underneath she had an unbreakable resolve, and also happened to possess one of the great administrative minds of the 19th century.Title Replies Views Last Post ; Welcome to Antique Road Trip: American Dreamin' forum.

Venerated as the "founder of modern nursing," Florence Nightingale—who was born in Florence, Italy on May 12, — left a revolutionary mark on sanitation, healthcare, and even statistics.

Q: OK, fine. I can see that some media probably affects how people think about and act toward nursing, like maybe a respected newspaper or current affairs show on TV. + free ebooks online. Did you know that you can help us produce ebooks by proof-reading just one page a day?

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