Math & Beyond

Florence Nightingale


19 November 2020

Reading Time: 6 Minutes


Florence Nightingale was a British nurse who was mainly a reformer of the nursing profession.
Her role as a social reformer and statistician are also noteworthy. She brought respect to nursing. She was an icon of Victorian culture.

Florence Nightingale picture

 “The Lady with the Lamp” is a title worthy of her service and fame. Her assistance in treating the soldiers wounded in the Crimean war were remarkable. Her social reforms were to empower women through Laws. She strived hard to improve health care to all in British society and India. She had also written and published her works in simple English. Statistics of medical data and writings on religion and mysticism are also her works.


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Early Life

  • Florence Nightingale was born on 12th May 1820 in Villa Colombaia in Florence in Italy in an affluent family.
  • Her father’s name was William Edward Nightingale, and her mother’s name was Frances Nightingale. She had an elder sister by the name Frances Parthenope.
  • In Florence Nightingale, Florence is her birthplace, and Nightingale is the real name.  Her father had progressive ideas about society and on women’s freedom. Thus, Florence Nightingale grew up with intelligence, religious faith, and social concern.
  • In 1821, her family moved to England. She was brought up at Embley, Hampshire and Lea Herst and Derbyshire. She learned history, mathematics, literature, and philosophy there. 

Florence, Italy IMAGE

Florence, Italy

Youth and Relationships

  • In 1938, her family was on tour in Europe. There they met a British born Parisian hostess by name Mary Clarke.
  • She became friends with Mary Clarke, who was 27 Yrs. older than Florence Nightingale.
  • Marie Clarke enlightened Florence Nightingale on women’s equality with men. She remained a friend to Florence Nightingale till her last days.
  • In 1837, at Embley Park residence, she had a vision of a calling from God to devote her life for service to people. At that time, nursing was not considered an honorable profession. Florence Nightingale decided to become a nurse. Her family opposed her decision. But she was firm and went to study nursing in 1844. She went against her mother and sister’s advice of leading a married life. 
  • She was a charming young woman. She was in a courtship with one Richard Monckhu Milnes, a politician, and poet. After 9 years, she rejected him as a hindrance to nursing
  • Then she met a politician Sidney Herbert in 1847 in Rome. He was secretary at War during 1845-46. He and his wife helped Florence Nightingale for nursing work in Crimea. Florence Nightingale was an adviser throughout his life. 
  • Later she was in a relation with an academic Benjamin Jowett. Her writing in Egypt illustrates her intelligence and skills in learning and literature. She wrote about the Abu Simbel in the Nile in 1850. At Thebe and Cairo, she wrote about her calling by God. 

Cairo, Egypt Image

Cairo, Egypt

  • In 1850, she visited a Lutheran church in Germany, a turning point in her life. She underwent medical training for 4 months at the Institution of KaisersWerth on the Rhine. 
  • On 22nd August 1853, she worked as the Superintendent at the Institution for the care of sick Gentlewomen in the upper Harley shop, London, till October 1854.

Crimean War

  • Florence Nightingale was recognized for her work in the Crimean war. The condition of the wounded soldiers in the camp hospital was horrifying. 
  • On 21st October 1864, Florence Nightingale was sent to the Ottoman Empire.
  • Accompanying her were
  1. 37 women volunteer nurses, trained by Florence Nightingale,
  2. Her aunt Mai Smith and 
  3. 15 catholic nuns.
  • Florence Nightingale was assisted by her friend Mary Clarke in Paris. They were deployed about 295 nautical miles (546 km) across the Black Sea from Balaklava in the Crimea. The British main camp was in Crimea. 
  • On arrival at Selimiye Barracks in Scutari in November 1854, she found that wounded soldiers were in the worst condition receiving abysmal care.
  • Medicines were in short supply, the floor and the clothes of patients were soiled.
  • More patients were dying to infections than to injuries.
  • The food served was also unacceptable. 
  • Florence Nightingale sent a message to the Times requesting a change. 
  • The British Government made arrangements to build a prefabricated hospital by entrusting Isambard Kingdom, Brunei. The hospital was built in Britain and shipped to Dardanelles.
  • This was Renking Hospital with Dr. Edmund Alexander Parkes. The death toll at Scutan came down by  (42% to 2%). This improvement was solely due to the efforts of Nightingale.
  • In March 1855, the British Government sent a sanitary commission to Scutan. 
  • Two more groups of nuns, called ‘Sisters of Mercy’ were sent to Scutans:
  1. One group headed by Mary Clarke Moore
  2. Mary Francis Bridgeman led the other group.
  • These groups also assisted in the works of Florence Nightingale. 
  • During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale was credited with the title “The Lady with the Lamp” in the Times.
  • In 1857, a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote:
important notes to remember

“Lo! In that house of misery,
A Lady with a Lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering room
And flit from room to room”.

  • Queen Victoria awarded a jewel of broom to Florence Nightingale to appreciate her services to soldiers of Crimean War.

Florence Nightingale Effect

It is named after Nightingale, the founder of the modern nursing profession in the 19th century. But she did not fall in love with any of her patients. Nightingale syndrome is the attraction, either sexual or emotional caregiver’s dependent. Once there was no need for care to the caretaker, the attraction tends to fade away.

Work as a Statistician

  • Florence Nightingale was good at Mathematics from an early age.
  • She used the pie charts for presentation of data.
  • She used graphical presentation of statistics.
  • She developed the pie chart to a polar area diagram (sometimes called Nightingale rose diagram).
  • It is equivalent to a modern circular histogram.
  • It is used to describe patient mortality in the military hospital.
  • Nightingale had progressive ideas about society, women, and poor people.
  • Besides mathematics and nursing, she had an interest in Literature. 
  • She penned down her thoughts in ‘Suggestions for Thought to Searchers after Religious Truth (829 pages, three volumes)’. 

Recognitions and Legacy

During her lifetime and after, Florence Nightingale was glorified throughout the world by nations and people.

29-11-1855 – Nightingale Fund for training of Nurses was established.
              Sidney Herbert was Honorary secretary and the Dake of Cambridge, President for the fund.

9-7-1860 – The fund swelled to £45,000/-
          Nightingale utilized the fund to set up Nightingale Training school for Nurses at the 

St. Thomas Hospital, London. 

     Now it is Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery and is a part of King’s College, London.

1883 – She received The Royal Red Cross as first recipient.
1904 – Appointed as Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John.
1907 – First Woman awardee of Order of Merit.
1908 – Honorary Freedom of the City (London).

Her birthday – 12th May – Honorary International CFS Awareness Day. 

International nurse day


  • From 1857 onwards, she was bedridden now due to depression. 
  • On 13th August 1910, at the age of 90, she had a peaceful death in sleep at 10, South Street, Mayfair, London.
  • Her grave is in the churchyard of St. Margaret church, East Wellow, Hampshire.

Florence Nightingale Quotes



Florence Nightingale was a social reformer and a founder of the modern nursing profession. She was an example of compassion, care, dedication, and service to others. Florence worked on presenting statistical medical data in new methods. She also produced literary works. ‘The Lady of the Lamp’  is remembered by the world by many awards and appreciations. A modified version of Hippocrates’ pledge is taken by new nurses on joining the job as ‘The Nightingale pledge’. It is a statement of Ethics and principles of the nursing profession.

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Written by P. Reeta Percy Malathi, Cuemath Teacher


What is Florence Nightingale famous for?

Florence Nightingale is the founder of the modern nursing profession. She first gained recognition for her work in the Crimean war.

What is the real name of Florence Nightingale?

Nightingale is the lastl name and Florence is the name of her birthplace, thus resulting in the name Florence Nightingale.

Why is Florence Nightingale called the Lady with the Lamp?

Her nursing service for soldiers who were wounded in battle in the Crimean War was laudable. She took steps to improve sanitary conditions and health care drastically in the Crimean camp hospital. She educated and led the nurses in her control for improved nursing works. She was an example of compassion, care for patients, and dedication. During nighttime, she went around all the rooms with a lamp in her hand to check on each patient’s health condition. Her services in Crimean War hospital were recognized by The Times by giving her the title ‘The Lady with the Lamp’. 

Who was the first-ever nurse?

Florence Nightingale, who founded the Modern Nursing System, was the first-ever nurse.

What was Florence Nightingale syndrome?

Florence Nightingale syndrome is when the caretaker develops the feeling of attraction, either sexual or emotional, towards the patient. Once there is no more need of care, the attraction tends to fade away.

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