Florence Nightingale was born in England in 1820.
She was a young woman who loved to use her mind. She enjoyed
studying mathematics. Instead of marrying a rich gentleman
and raising a family, Florence had dreams to become a nurse and
work in a hospital. Her family was very disappointed.
In those days hospitals were very dirty, dreary places. Rich
people paid doctors to come to their homes to care for them when
they were sick. Only poor people stayed in
Florence believed that hospitals could and should be
kept clean. She had visited a hospital in Germany and found
patients being very well cared for. She wanted to do the
same and dedicated her life to improving the medical care in
In the year 1854, England was at war. The English
government asked Florence Nightingale to go with forty other
nurses and run a hospital for the injured British soldiers.
There she found the hospitals dirty and full of diseases.
The soldiers were cold, starving, and badly wounded.
Florence became known as the "lady with the
lamp" because she worked all through the night carrying a
lamp to light her way, while she worked hard to keep British
soldiers from dying. She became famous around the world for
her good work.
When the war ended she wrote many reports. The
reports contained careful facts and figures that showed fewer
patients died if the hospitals were cleaner. She also
started a nursing school in London.