Gillian Gill's book is a biography of the four members of the family who produced one of the most famous women in nineteenth century England, Florence Nightingale. Gill begins with her parents, William Edward Nightingale, known as WEN, and Fanny Nightingale. Both were very enlightened about raising their daughters, especially WEN, making sure that they were educated and giving them access to his library. Parthenope, Florence's older sister was born in 1819 in Italy. She was sickly for a good deal of life, married late, and then had a career as a writer.
Florence was born in Italy in 1820. She was interested in science and religion and early on demonstrated a passion for caring for the sick. As she grew older, she felt that she was called upon by God to work in nursing. Nursing was not considered an acceptable profession for proper young ladies at the time. Gradually she overcame her family's objections and took charge of a hospital for sick governesses. Her greatest accomplishments came when she took a group of nurses to Turkey to care for the soldiers during the Crimean War.
She returned to England to work on public health issues. Later she became an invalid and lived for a long period as a recluse. She died in 1910.
This report prepared by Jack Goodstein