Florence Nightingale's European Travels

Florence Nightingale's European Travels

Florence Nightingale's European Travels

Florence Nightingale's European Travels


This seventh volume in the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale consists of letters, observations, and notes from Florence Nightingale's many trips to Europe, beginning with a family journey when she was a teenager. It includes annotations she made on opera libretti from her "music mad" phase and her winter in Rome (1847-48) which were so important in shaping her liberal politics and support for independence movements. Her letters and notes from Greece and central Europe in 1850, and her Kaisers- werth stay in 1851, reveal her developing ideas on social reform, as well as her first professional training. Materials from 1853 provide information on her training in Paris hospitals. Volume 7 also contains letters and observations from her excursions to Scotland, Ireland, and all over England, from her childhood on.

Many of the letters in European Travels were uncatalogued items buried in archives and will be new to Nightingale scholars. The information gathered in this volume adds considerably to what can be learned about the formative influences in Nightingale's life, politics, and faith.

Currently, Volumes 1 to 11 are available in e-book version by subscription or from university and college libraries through the following vendors: Canadian Electronic Library, Ebrary, MyiLibrary, and Netlibrary.


European Travels goes back to the themes of the first volume, Life and Family, relating correspondence primarily with her family—a large extended family—much of it from Florence Nightingale's youth (teens and twenties). The European trip of 1837–39 indeed was with her immediate family: mother, father and sister. The material in this volume is organized by trip, then chronologically, with the exception of later letters and notes, which often include recollections of these trips. These are placed at the end of the material from the country in question.

The European trips took place in a difficult period of Nightingale's life. The first one, beginning in late 1837, occurred only months after her "call to service," 7 February 1837. The "call" in turn occurred after an experience in 1836 of conversion, about which we know little but the book which prompted it, by American Congregational minister Jacob Abbott: The Corner-stone, or, a Familiar Illustration of the Principles of Christian Truth, 1834. On this European trip Nightingale was only beginning to consider how to act on her call, but there are reflections on life, God, visions, dreams, angels, purpose and work. By the trip of 1847–48, when she wintered in Rome with family friends, Selina and Charles Bracebridge, she had spent many years seeking to act practically on the call, her family always holding her back. By the trip in 1850, again with these friends, Nightingale was aware that she had reached the same age as Christ had when he began his public ministry, thirty, and still had done nothing, nor had any prospect of doing the work she so desperately wanted to.

This trip through central Europe in the summer of 1850, ending with two weeks at Kaiserswerth, was important in Nightingale's spiritual development. In Berlin, Hamburg and Kaiserswerth she met devout, committed, active Protestants. The period in Greece which preceded her time in Germany was also (although less) important, for in Athens . . .

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