Florence Nightingale

Suggested Reading

Selected titles can be ordered online in association with Amazon.com and Amazon UK

While the Edward Cook and Woodham-Smith books are the definitive biographies of Florence Nightingale, they are a very hard read. I doubt many people have made it through Volume II of Cook. The Sarah Toooley book and the Emmeline Garnett book do not have the footnotes and indexes required for serious scholars but they are excellent quick reading and give the reader a refreshing new point of view on the life of Miss Nightingale.

For those who might desire to get a flavor of the times she lived in the author George Eliot (Marian Evans, 1819-1880) grew up in Derbyshire area and wrote her famous books about the atmosphere and social actions of the villages around the Nightingale summer home of Lea Hurst. Titles would be Adam Bede, or The Mill on the Floss. These will give the reader an impression of the times.

I recommend a search of these three book sites for Florence Nightingale material: try her name as search or Crimean War or Nursing. You may be pleasantly surprised at what books you find. Tell them Country Joe sent you.

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O N L I N E   A R T I C L E S

From Spartacus Internet Encyclopedia
"Still So Much to Do: The Legacy of Florence Nightingale" from NurseWeek
"The Lady with the Lamp" from British Heritage

R E C E N T   B O O K S

Florence Nightingale: The Woman and Her Legend
Mark Bostridge
In Florence Nightingale: The Woman and Her Legend, the first full-length biography for over half a century, Mark Bostridge reveals the truth behind one of the most iconic figures in modern British history. Based on an enormous range of unpublished material, including family papers that have long been inaccessible, Viking’s edition also includes many previously unseen portraits of Nightingale.
Collected Works of Florence Nightingale (16 volumes)
Lynn McDonald, ed.
Florence Nightingale and the Viceroys
Patricia Mowbray
Nightingales : The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale
Gillian Gill
The Friendship of Florence Nightingale and Mary Clare Moore
Edited by Mary C. Sullivan
Florence Nightingale: Mystic, Visionary, Reformer
Barbara Montgomery Dossey
Florence Nightingale
Lucile Davis
For younger readers.
Florence Nightingale: The Making of a Radical Theologian
Val Webb

B O O K   L I S T

Cover Florence Nightingale, Avenging Angel
Hugh Small
This book focuses on Miss Nightingale’s life after the Crimean War. It also tells the story of her whole life. It is brand new. It proposes the theory that her discovery that poor sanitation caused most of the deaths in her Hospital in Turkey. It proposes the idea that this is responsible for her "breakdown." Hugh Small brings a fresh new point of view and introduces some very interesting new data and trivia about FN. I very much recommend this as a must-read for anyone interested in FN the War Nurse and "soldiers’ friend."

Florence Nightingale
Cecil Woodham-Smith
This book was written in the 50s by an Englishwoman. It is the most reprinted of the Florence Nightingale books. It is a must read for anyone who really wants to get a picture of Florence’s entire life and her family history. It is not an easy book for anyone who has no knowledge of English history. But it is the most passionate tale of FN’s life and reads like good fiction. There are a few reported mistakes but they little matter in a life so full. Order

Note: this book has been repackaged and some of the smaller American editions are a bit easier to read; it even went out in America titled Lonely Crusader.

Woodham-Smith wrote three other books on the times of FN which I recommend to anyone wanting to understand the times. All of these books read very well and are very exciting.

  • A biography of Queen Victoria titled Queen Victoria. Order
  • A book about the potato famine in Ireland titled The Great Hunger. Order
  • A book about the fateful charge of the light brigade in the Crimean War -- The Reason Why -- giving all the background of the officers involved and their enmeshed relationship. Order

The Life of Florence Nightingale
Sir Edward Cook
A two-volume work, very hard to find.

Florence Nightingale's Nuns
Emmeline Garnett
Vision Books, 1961
The story of the five nuns from Bermondsey Convent in London who went to Turkey to help Florence Nightingale tend the wounded and sick soldiers.

The Life of Florence Nightingale
Sarah Tooley
S. H. Bousfield & Co., Ltd., 1904
This very readable book is the only book written during her lifetime and as such has many interesting facts. Many people who knew FN were interviewed by the author, whereas the other famous books about her are researched by reading old material.

Florence Nightingale
Elspeth Huxley

Florence Nightingale, 1820-1859
I. B. O'Malley

"I Have Done My Duty": Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War, 1854-56
Edited by Sue M. Goldie
For anyone interested in Florence Nightingale the War Nurse this is a must. Exciting and mostly FN’s own words. A very interesting view into the mind of an War Nurse Commander. Sue Goldie is a world expert on the letters of FN. Pretty easy and emotional. Order

Ever Yours, Florence Nightingale, Selected Letters
Edited by Martha Vicinus and Bea Nergaard.
Letters, photos and insights into Miss Nightingale the adult. A wonderful book for the Nightingale follower. Lots of family interaction stuff. A serious work. Order

Nurse Sarah Anne with Florence Nightingale at Scutari
Edited by Robert G Richardson.
This is all about the Barracks Hospital in Scutari in Turkey. It is written by an actual nurse who served under FN during that 1855-1856 period of the war when she attended 2,000 deaths. Very good descriptions of her and making rounds and all the rest. A wonderful little book. Easy to read.

Notes On Nursing, What It Is and What It Is Not
Florence Nightingale
This is an actual reproduction of the famous little book that taught a generation how to keep house. Full of FN humor and wisdom. Full of history. A bit hard to read if you don’t like Victorian writing but FN wrote in a style that is easy to read today. The available titles do not have the chapter "Minding Baby" which was printed in the not reproduced "working class edition." The book sold millions of copies in many, many languages. Order

Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing
Edited by Victor Skretkowicz
Based on the enlarged second version, plus other additions.

Letters From Egypt, A Journey On The Nile 1849-1850
Florence Nightingale, selected and introduced by Anthony Sattin. A beautiful off-size almost coffee table Nightingale book. It contains letters that FN wrote home while on her journey down the Nile River with Sigma and Charles Bracebridge and her maid Trout. This FN is the visionary and the trip encompassed one of her most intense periods of soul searching. There are lots of beautiful pictures but they are not of FN but of Egypt.

Florence Nightingale In Egypt And Greece: Her Diary and "Visions"
Michael D. Calabria
This little book is a precious gem for Nightingale followers. It contains background material and observations and informations about FN and the diary. It contains the actual diary that FN made as she journeyed down the Nile River with Charles and Sigma Bracebridge. The book goes before and after the Nile trip giving an important insight into FN’s thoughts during this pre-nursing period of her life and her search for an answer from God about what to do with her life. Order

Eminent Victorians
Lytton Strachey
This is the only small book version of her life. The book is about four Victorians and Florence Nightingale is one. The book did exist in an individual printing about only her titled Florence Nightingale but I don’t think it is easy to get. This book has been around a long time and is quite famous for its brevity and its boldness compared to what came before. Strachey was critical of her, some say. This is recommended as a taste of FN. Order

Florence Nightingale, Cassandra and Other Selections from Suggestions for Thought
Edited by Mary Poovey.
Previously unavailable. Miss Nightingale’s thoughts on religion in a very serious way. Mixed into the writings are some amazing insights into the social interactions of the family by gender. Contains the essay "Cassandra" about Victorian women’s lives. Very interesting. Order

Florence Nightingale
Her essay on the trials and tribulations of a young upper class women living in Victorian times. Order

Florence Nightingale Reputation and Power
F. B. Smith
A serious little book focusing on her relationship to the doctors and nurses both during the Crimean War and after at the Nightingale School for Nursing.

The Nightingale Training School, 1860-1996
Roy Wake. Order

The Rhosneigr Romanticist
Edited by T.T.M. Hale
A biography of novelist W.D.Owen that includes 11 pages on his sister Nelly Owen, who spent several years working for Nightingale. Order

The Private Life of Florence Nightingale
Richard Gordon
A small fictional novel about someone who accompanies Florence Nightingale to her Crimean War adventures. Proposes that she has lesbian love relationships with friends and nurses. Is a nice piece on historical silliness on the one hand or slander of a saint on the other. Order

Colonel’s Lady And Camp-Follower
Piers Compton
An excellent little book about women who followed or went with the men who fought the Crimean War. Lots of interesting stuff about gender interaction. Some relates directly to Nightingale but most is about these women some who nursed. Order

Voice From The Ranks, A Sergeant-major’s account of the Crimean campaign
Timothy Gowing
A wonderful little war book about what it was like trying to not become a casualty during the Crimean War. Participation in the major battles and observations and facts from the infantry point of view. Interesting for insights into the times.

Cover Battle Cries and Lullabies
Linda Grant De Pauw

This first-ever history of women in war is a must. The author's easy-to-read style combined with a huge knowledge of the genre she created, has birthed for us in modern time a simple, interesting, educational, primer for the genre of "women in war." Never before have women claimed their 50% of military history as in this book. The patriarchal halls shall whine and moan. A must for those who claim to be feminists! Order

Gender Camouflage: Women and the U.S. Military
Francine D'Amico & Laurie Weinstein, eds.

A History of Nursing
Adelaide Nutting and Lavinia Dock