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The world kws Florence Nightingale as the lady with the lamp the revered founder of nursing as a respectable profession for women. But few people are aware that Nightingale's career began only after years of struggle to free herself from her suffocating Victorian family. In this surprisingly passionate feminist essay (a brilliant polemic, states Martha Vicinus), Nightingale deunces the lives of idleness she and other women ofher class were forced to lead.
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) earned the nickname The Lady With the Lamp for her tireless nursing of British soldiers during the Crimean War. Nightingale was born to wealthy English parents and proved to be a quick-witted and independent child. She eventually became interested in nursing and, despite opposition from her parents, trained as a nurse and began work in a London clinic. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, she led a group of three dozen nurses to Constantinople to serve in British military hospitals there. She cajoled army officials to change the terrible conditions in the hospitals, thus earning the gratitude of soldiers and a measure of public fame. When the war ended in 1856 she returned to London and continued her reform campaign there. Nightingale's outspoken Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army and Notes on Hospitals helped create changes in hygiene and overall treatment of patients. She also founded the groundbreaking Nightingale Training School for nurses, and in later years published dozens of books and pamphlets on public health. Nightingale was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria in 1883, and in 1907 became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit.