The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences

Florence Nightingale 1820-1910

Florence Nightingale was a woman that was to change the face of the hospital environment and patient care radically. In the mid-19th century, women were to be seen and not heard, especially when their voice was political or contradicted the established view.

 Florence Nightingale was born of wealthy parents in the Villa La Columbia, Florence Italy. She as a young lady, was determined to be a nurse, against the wishes of her parents.

 She was extremely well educated and had influential friends in high places. Palmerstone, who was the Prime Minister during the Crimean War, was a friend of the Nightingale family; his estate in Hampshire adjoined theirs. 

The Crimean war broke out in March 1854, and initially all the country was behind the government’s decision to deploy the troops to battle. This was the time that the press was becoming more and more proactive, sending reporters on deployments, the Times Newspaper sent one such reporter to the war zone. 

The reports that were sent back by Irishman William Russell the Times reporter, shocked the country as a whole, public opinion started to turn away from supporting the government, to one of horror, distress and sheer anger because of the lack of support being given to the troops, especially the wounded located at Scutari Hospital.

William Russell famously wrote in the Times in September 1854 appealing to women to volunteer to help the wounded.

"Are there no devoted women amongst us, able and willing to go forth to minister to the sick and suffering soldiers of the east in the hospitals in Scutari? Are none of the daughters of England, at this extreme hour of need, ready for such work of mercy? Must we fall far below the French in self-sacrifice and devoutness? 195