Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale

Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale

by Gillian Gill

Florence Nightingale was for a time the most famous woman in Britainif not the world.

In an utterly beguiling narrative that reads like the best Victorian fiction, acclaimed author Gillian Gill tells the story of this richly complex woman and her extraordinary family.Born to an adoring wealthy, cultivated father and a mother whose conventional facade concealed a surprisingly unfettered intelligence, Florence was connected by kinship or friendship to the cream of Victorian Englands intellectual aristocracy.

So it should have come as no surprise to William Edward and Fanny Nightingale when their younger daughter, Florence, showed an early passion for helping others combined with a precocious bent for power.

Far more problematic was Florences inexplicable refusal to marry the well-connected Richard Monckton Milnes.

As Gill so brilliantly shows, this matrimonial refusal was at once an act of religious dedication and a cry for her freedomas a woman and as a leader.

But at the height of her celebrity, at the age of thirty-seven, she retired to her bedroom and remained there for most of the rest of her life, allowing visitors only by appointment.Combining biography, politics, social history, and consummate storytelling, Nightingales is a dazzling portrait of an amazing woman, her difficult but loving family, and the high Victorian era they so perfectly epitomized.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Biography
  • Rating: 3.78
  • Pages: 544
  • Publish Date: September 13th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • Isbn10: 0345451880
  • Isbn13: 9780345451880

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Florence Nightingale was a social reformer, women's rights advocate, but the reason she is most famous is because she founded modern nursing. The Nightingales were ahead of their time in their beliefs, they advocated such crazy ideas as protection of the environment, women's right to vote, independence for Ireland and improving work conditions for the poor. You can tell Gillian Gill conducted extensive research and she truly brought Florence, her family and world to life.

I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in the Victorian era, even if they think they have no interest in Nightingale--the myriad details about her liberal, reform-minded, highly educated upper-middle class family in that time should be seriously fascinating for any lover of Victoriana.

A terrific biography of Florence Nightingale and her family, from a feminist perspective. Much of this book is about Florences power struggles with her parents and with other members of her large extended family. But by the time she had taken charge of a home for retired governesses, and then was asked by the government to lead a party of nurses to the army hospital in Turkey, her parents and sister were proud of her, and continued to support her in extraordinary ways for the rest of her life. About Richard Monckton Milnes, said to have been the man who Florence loved but sacrificed to her vocation (Gill refutes this): In Turkey, Milnes was invited to a pashas dinner party at which the guests were entertained by Greek dancing boys dressed as women. Biographer: Pope-Hennessy summarizes: The dance ended with the Turkish guests getting thoroughly involved with the Greek dancing boys.

Okay, not literally, but one of Flo's cousins inherited the family estate because Florence's mother could not legally inherit her husband's property. Florence insisted on taking nurse's training, which caused her upperclass family no end of grief. After training, Florence immediately took on an activism role, advocating for sanitation, a healthy diet, and peaceful surrounding to help patients heal. During the Crimean War, British soldiers in Turkey were dying hand-over-fist, and with the help of her family's connection, Florence managed to get herself appointed to the hospital treating the wounded at Scutari. The Army's medical director was not impressed with Florence's demand that he give over operations of the hospital to her, but eventually changed his mind after she sat, mule-like, out on her boat in the harbor and refused to hand over the medical supplies.

The author pulls extensively from the voluminous correspondence to and from Miss Nightingale to give a fuller, richer portrait of the "Lady with the Lamp." The severe restrictions on Victorian women, the entail of the family estate, and a call from God to serve came to shape the brilliant mind and life of Florence Nightingale.

I've wanted to read a book about her for the longest time, and I found the information about her upbringing and her relationship with her parents and her sister very informative. She wanted to do something with her life, and in spite of her parents and her sister, and the norms of society, she went ahead and did her own thing.

We have enough bold-faced stories about her famous subject, now let's hear what was happening from Nightingale's own pen and the pens of those she loved.

Excellent read for many reasons, though primarily a view into a woman's world where she sacrifices artifice of life for punishing hours of nursing.

Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale by Gillian Gill 3.78 Rating details 360 Ratings 64 Reviews Florence Nightingale was for a time the most famous woman in Britainif not the world. In an utterly beguiling narrative that reads like the best Victorian fiction, acclaimed author Gillian Gill tells the story of this richly complex woman and her extraordinary family. Far more problematic was Florences inexplicable refusal to marry the well-connected Richard Monckton Milnes.