You are here: History > Famous women > Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

{alt}Florence Nightingale{more}Click to play video Florence Nightingale (18201910) was an English nurse who worked to improve the quality of medical care for British soldiers during the Crimean War (1853–56). Her work there and writings on nursing led to major changes in the way that hospitals were run, and her influences can still be found in hospital wards today. Florence Nightingale grew up in a society in which nursing was not a respectable job for a woman, but through her efforts and determination she paved the way for women from all backgrounds to follow her example. In 1907 Florence Nightingale became the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit. A year later she was given the Freedom of the City of London, an award which recognized her outstanding achievements.

Embley Park, Hampshire, family home of Florence Nightingale. Today it is a school.

Early life

Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820. Florence and her older sister grew up in a wealthy family; their father was the son of a successful banker. Florence’s father wanted his daughters to have a classical education and he taught them academic subjects, including mathematics and philosophy. It was unusual for girls to have an education like this at the time.

When Florence was 17, she received an offer of marriage from a suitor named Richard Monckton Mills, but she turned him down. She wanted to concentrate on her nursing work rather than spend her life as the wife of a rich gentleman.

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer