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Facts about Florence Nightingale – the Lady with a Lamp

Florence Nightingale is known to the world with several titles such as the first nurse, founder of the nursing profession, compassionate and caring person, and with many other reputable titles.

In this post, I am going to discuss 15 facts that you may have not known about Nightingale. 

Florence Nightingale was born in Italy on May 12, 1820.

Her father, William Nightingale, was an English Gentleman and rich property owner. His two daughters were born when he and his wife Frances Nightingale was living in Italy.

Nightingales named their daughters after the cities they were born in.

The first daughter was named Parthenope (ancient name of Naples), and the youngest one was born in Florence, Italy. 

That is where Florence Nightingale got her name.

Florence Nightingale is also known as “the lady with a lamp”. 

She got her nickname because she was checking wounded soldiers every night using a lamp.

There is an actual movie called “the lady with a lamp” for those who are deeply interested in her life story.

The movie was directed by Herbert Wilcox. And, British movie start Anna Neagle played in the role of Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale is the founder of Modern Nursing.

In other words, without her efforts in the medical field, nursing may have not been a separate profession as we know it today.

She was also a social reformer, statistician, and advocate for quality health care.

She established Nightingale Training School for Nurses and St. Thomas’s Hospital in 1860.

Nightingale turned down a marriage proposal to become a nurse

Although she belonged socially upper-class family, she did not intend to climb up the social ladder. More specifically, she did not like to be in the center of attention.

Her parents weren’t pleased with her decision to become a nurse as the job had been considered low menial labor by social elites.

William Nightingale's Embley Park House
William Nightingale’s Embley Park House

Despite the circumstances, Nightingale engaged in philanthropy from a young age. Helped poor, ill, and elderly village residents.

By the age of 16, she was confident that nursing was the profession she wanted to go after.

She achieved a great reputation during the Crimean War.

After receiving a request from Secretary of War Sidney Herbert, Nightingale organized a corpse of nurses which included 34 nurses.

When Nightingale got to the military hospital, she witnessed the horrible conditions of wounded soldiers. She described the place as “the Kingdom of Hell”.

Wounded soldiers were laying on unsanitary beds. Some of them were covered with their own excrement.

In those poor conditions, more soldiers were dying from infectious diseases such as cholera and typhoid than from their battle injuries.

As soon as Nightingale came to the British base hospital in Constantinople, she improved the sanitary conditions, established “invalid’s kitchen” and laundry for soldiers.

She also created classrooms and libraries so the wounded soldiers would stay sane during their hospital stay.

Nightingale was also called “the Angel of the Crimea”.

Engraved Portrait of Florence Nightingale
Engraved portrait of Florence Nightingale

When soldiers were asked of a single name that will be always remembered from the Crimean war, almost all of them chose the name of Florence Nightingale.

For many, Nightingale was a true Angel. Especially, wounded soldiers, who received her compassionate care, considered her their savior.

Florence Nightingale was kind towards animals as well.

Once when she was a young girl, she found an abused dog with a broken leg. She washed it, fed it, and bonded its broken leg.

After a few days, the dog was doing fine and people were amazed by her kindness.

After the incident, people started visiting Miss Nightingale to get treatment for their wounds and injuries.

From this point on, Nightingale understood that taking care of people was her God-given mission in her life.

Florence Nightingale never married, although she had several admirers and received marriage proposals.

She religiously believed that her purpose in this life is to take care of sick people. Thus, she tirelessly contributed to healthcare by advocating for quality healthcare.

She showed a great example to other medical workers on how to take care of sick people by taking bold actions.

However, to serve others, she sacrificed her family life. She had no children. But many activists and powerful figures surrounded her during her lifetime.

Nightingale took care of her sick dolls.

You may think this is an unrealistic statement since dolls never get sick. But you can’t explain that to a child.

When Florence was a very young child, she treated her dolls very dearly and took care of them regularly.

Once in a while she bathed them, rub their back, massaged their head, and brought them good food in toy dishes.

These childhood examples indicate that Nightingale was born to be a nurse.

To honor Nightingale’s contributions, the International community introduced awards and recognitions. 

Interesting information about Florence Nightingale

Nowadays, nursing students take Nightingale Pledge before becoming a nurse. People celebrate International Nurses Day on Nightingale’s birthday.

Additionally, there is a medal called the “Florence Nightingale Medal”. It is presented for the nurses who achieved the highest international distinction in nursing.

Florence Nightingale had a strong relationship with at least two men.

Although she had a warm relationship with a politician Richard Monckton Milnes and academic Benjamin Jowett, she hadn’t married either of them.

Nightingale’s romantic relationships remain mysterious.

One source even suggests that she had a romantic relationship with women. But there is no rock-solid proof for such claims.

Florence Nightingale wrote a nursing book.

Her famous book is titled “Notes on Nursing”. The book is not only for medical professionals but also for the general public.

It is written in a simple English language so everyone could use it to keep the sanitary conditions in their households and take preventive measures to be healthy in everyday life.

Also, the book teaches everyone how to take of the sick correctly.  You may read the electronic version of the book here.

She was a social reformer

Apart from delivering compassionate care to her patients, she also pioneered social reforms.

She met with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to discuss the need for reforms in military hospitals. Establish the Nightingale fund to build a nursing school.

She also created statistical charts to indicate the death rate in barrack hospitals and suggested several measures to cut the death rate.

Additionally, Nightingale helped women to find a viable means to work outside of their homes as a productive member of society.

Florence Nightingale was the first woman to receive the Order of Merit.

Order of Merit is awarded to people who distinguish themselves in the Armed Forces or earn an achievement in science, literature, art, or promotion of the culture.

Additionally, she earned the title “The Lady of Grace” in 1904.  

She died at the age of 90 on August 13, 1910.

Florence Nightingale Facts
Florence Nightingale’s gravestone / Credit: Wikipedia

Nightingale died peacefully in her sleep at her house in London. The cause of her death was heart failure.

Her family declined the state’s offer of burial in Westminster Abbey. Instead, she was buried in the family plot in St. Margaret’s church and was honored with a memorial service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.  

To learn more about Florence Nightingale’s life, you may read an electronic book called “Florence Nightingale, The Angel of Crimea”. It is available on for free.

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
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