Author(s): Gillian Gill
The compelling history of an extraordinary, complex and prominent Victorian family whose fate it was to have a brilliant daughter - Florence - who wanted to change the world. Florence Nightingale is history's most famous nurse, the epitome of gentle, nurturing femininity. But behind the public image of 'The Lady With the Lamp' was a brilliant, combative woman, struggling to escape a web of social prejudice and familial expectations. From girlhood, Florence wanted to dedicate her life to nursing in public hospitals, even though nursing was then work done only by women of the lowest classes. Florence's family were determined to stop her. Eventually Florence had her way, and her nursing mission took her to the filthy, disease-ridden military hospitals of Scutari and Balaclava. Her work during the Crimean War made her an international heroine, and thereafter she wielded an influence over public health policy that was unparalleled for a woman of the time. Radical in her ideas, eccentric in her way of life, Florence was often at war with her family, but love and loyalty always triumphed in the end. The other Nightingales adored and criticised her, understood and misread her, supported and thwarted her, defined and were defined by her.
This absorbing biography brings the dynamic and complicated social milieu of the Victorian age dramatically to life. Fascinating new light is shed not just on one of the era's most influential social figures, but on the entire era through which the young Florence and her family lived.