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Go with the Flo

The writing of Florence Nightingale brought to light

While the public image of Florence Nightingale epitomizes self-sacrificing Victorian womanhood, her private writing explodes this facade, says Professor Thomas McIntire of history and religion. “The public remembers her as the founder of modern nursing, but they don’t know the theologian, philosopher, social critic and women’s rights activist,” says McIntire, part of an international team researching Nightingale. His role is to publish the previously unpublished 500-page treatise that she wrote between 1850 and 1860, along with a critical commentary of the text. “In this essay she is absolutely scathing on the plight of women in 19th-century England,” he says. “She comes through as a fiercely independent thinker.” McIntire says Nightingale may well have decided against publishing her essay, Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers After Truth Among the Artizans (sic) of England, because she would have been heavily censured for her unorthodox ideas.

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