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Florence Nightingale

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Florence Nightingale

The Nightingale family lived in a big house in Derbyshire. They were so rich they bought a bigger house in Hampshire. Florence was a very lucky girl. She had lots of toys and pets to play with, and she had twenty seven cousins.

Florence was taught reading, maths and other subjects by her father, because in those days girls weren’t taught much. This teaching worried Florence’s mother and she said “No one likes CLEVER girls!” She thought girls should learn to play the piano, embroidery and how to arrange flowers.

When she was a little older Florence started visiting poor and sick people in her town. She liked helping them. Then she decided she wanted to do more of this work. “I must work in a hospital now,” she said.

Both of her parents were now very cross, they didn't want their daughter to become a nurse.

Her mother said “The shame of it! You might as well be a kitchen maid!” Florence began to study nursing in secret. She worked early every morning and late every night.

Florence soon heard about the war between Russia and Turkey. “Soldiers are dying, I must do something” she said. Florence arrived at a hospital in Scutari on the 4th November 1854.

The hospital was dark and filthy. Soldiers lay all around wounded and dying. More soldiers were arriving all the time. Everything was dirty. There was hardly any clean water, no medicines, no bandages, no soap or towels. Instead of getting better, the soldiers got worse.

Florence began to help the soldiers by cleaning and making them healthy meals. Then she bought new sheets and clothes. She hardly ever stopped to sleep. Each day there were new problems to sort out. To make things even worse, some of the doctors and army officers didn't want Florence to help.

The injured soldiers loved Florence. She did everything she could to help them get better. She asked for books and games and a chef to be sent from England. Every single evening she walked through the ward to say goodnight. The soldiers called her the lady with the lamp.

1. The Nightingale family had two houses, where were they?

2. How was Florence’s education different from yours?

3. How did Florence’s parents feel about her becoming a nurse?

4. Why did Florence’s mother say she “might as well be a kitchen maid”?

5. Describe the hospital.

6. Why did the soldiers not recover from their injuries?

7. How did Florence help the soldiers?

8. Why do you think the doctors and army officers didn't want Florence to help?

9. Why was Florence called ‘the lady with the lamp’?

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