Cover image for Florence Nightingale : avenging angel
Florence Nightingale : avenging angel
Small, Hugh, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
xii, 221 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : portraits ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Constable, 1998.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RT37.N5 S56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
RT37.N5 S56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
RT37.N5 S56 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Biography

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This study of the personality and achievements of Florence Nightingale is based on extensive research and unpublished material. She achieved fame for her leadership of a group of British nurses during the Crimean War, and afterwards she dedicated herself to promoting public health. Following a collapse at age 37, she remained bedridden for more than ten years and became one of history's most famous invalids. Hugh Small has produced a new and startling explanation of Florence Nightingale's actions, comparing the conflicting contemporary accounts of what really happened in her hospital at Scutari during the war and uncovering an official cover-up of a public health disaster for which Nightingale felt personally responsible.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

For this new interpretation of a durably fascinating woman, Small draws especially from letters not included in the official Nightingale papers and not used by other biographers. Nightingale took to her bed for many years after her famous Crimean War service. Small argues that the reason for her invalidism was not neurosis but overwhelming guilt when Nightingale realized that 14,000 British soldiers had died in the wartime hospitals because doctors and nurses failed to practice elementary sanitary procedures that she should have enforced. Small makes a strong case for his argument and for Nightingale's belief in the germ theory of infection, a "modern" notion with which other biographers have said she did not go along. Small also shows that Nightingale did not publish her confidential report to the Royal Commission that looked into the hospital deaths. Meanwhile, he clearly describes Nightingale's relationships with major politicians and appropriately places the whole story in the Victorian context. He adds valuably to the voluminous literature on a remarkable woman. --William Beatty

Library Journal Review

In 1854, Florence Nightingale sailed from England with 38 nurses, bound for the Scutari barracks in Constantinople and the Crimean War. Two years later, she returned a world figure: Queen Victoria sent her an inscribed brooch, and a public subscription raised over a million pounds to fund the training of hospital nurses. Then, at age 37, Nightingale collapsed and remained an invalid for ten years. Basing his study on extensive research into previously unpublished material, Small (a London-based management consultant) attributes Nightingale's collapse to her discovery that her well-publicized nursing efforts at Scutari had made no difference: "[She] had not been running a hospital. She had been running a death camp." The real culprits, he notes, were bad drains, overcrowding, and poor ventilation. Once past her distress, Nightingale moved to expose the government cover-up. This book should reestablish Nightingale as a major figure in 19th-century health reform. Recommended for scholarly collections and larger general collections.√ĄDavid Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Resolving the Mystery
Early Life
Reputation and Myth