Florence, Italy on May 12, 1820
She chose not to marry, to
pursue her life's ministry of social action, which she described as "mankind creating mankind."
Before her intervention
nursing was often regarded, at least in England, as 'a menial employment needing neither study nor
In her early twenties
Florence began visiting hospitals. In Egypt she met some of the Sisters of St Vincent de Paul who
were nursing in Alexandria and recognised the value of their discipline, organisation and training.
In August 1853 she started
work herself as the superintendent of the recently-opened Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in
At the request of the British
government, she agreed to go as Superintendent of Female Nurses in Turkey to organize medical care
for the British soldiers injured or ill in Scutari during the Crimean War (1854-56). She took
thirty-eight nurses with her, eighteen of them Roman Catholic or Anglican nuns.
In 1856 Florence Nightingale returned to England as a
national heroine. She had been deeply shocked by the lack of hygiene and elementary care that the
men received in the British Army.
While in the Crimea she
became ill with Crimean Fever and was invalid from 1858-1888 due to her debilitating and
excruciating symptoms. An innovator and a driving force for public health reform, she brought about
significant changes in the health of British soldiers and established the first secular School of
Nursing. All of these achievements were accomplished by her as an invalid at home suffering severely
from an illness acquired in service to others
In later years Florence
Nightingale remained an invalid but she continued to take a keen interest in health and nursing and
to give advice whenever it was sought. In 1907 she was awarded the Order of Merit by King Edward VII
and in 1908 was given the Honorary Freedom of the City of London. She died on 13 August 1910
and was buried at East Wellow, Hampshire.