Suggestions for Thought

Suggestions for Thought

Suggestions for Thought

Suggestions for Thought


In a three-volume work that was never published, Nightingale presented her radical spiritual views, motivated by the desire to give those who had turned away from conventional religion an alternative to atheism. Michael D. Calabria and Janet A. Macrae provide the essence of Nightingale's spiritual philosophy by selecting and reorganizing her best-written treatments. "This book is an excellent resource for readers seeking to understand Florence Nightingale's thought and its place in the intellectual and philosophical history of nursing. The book provides fertile ground for study and reflection by those interested in a glimpse into the inner life of a complex and productive woman." --"Nursing History Review"


Florence Nightingale is best known as a woman of action: as the founder of modern nursing, a reformer in the field of public health, and a pioneer in the use of statistics. Her influence was so far-reaching that even the critical Lytton Strachey would write in 1918, ten years after her death, that “there is no great hospital today which does not bear upon it the impress of her mind.”

It is not generally known, however, that Nightingale was at the forefront of the religious and philosophical as well as the scientific thought of her time. In a three-volume work entitled Suggestions for Thought, Nightingale presented her radical spiritual views. Her motivation was to give those who had turned away from conventional religion an alternative to atheism.

Nightingale never published Suggestions for Thought, and very few biographers have discussed the work in any detail. This abridged and edited volume is thus designed to make the essence of Nightingale’s spiritual philosophy accessible to the general public, as well as to scholars and students. As the original work was redundant in its 800 pages, we have selected the best-written treatments of all her major ideas and have reorganized them for ease of reading. In addition, we have provided an introduction and commentary to set the work into a biographical, historical, and philosophical context.

This work illuminates a little-known dimension of Nightingale’s personality, bringing forth the ideas that served as guiding principles for her work. It is also a historical document as it deals with the religious issues that were fiercely debated in the second half of the nineteenth century. In many ways, however, much of it is surprisingly relevant today, when humanity is still trying to reconcile reason with faith. In Suggestions for Thought, one has the opportunity to experience one of the great practical minds of modern history as it grapples with the most profound questions of human existence. As these basic human issues are universal and timeless, Nightingale’s words are as immediate and compelling now as they were over a century ago.

1. Strachey, Eminent Victorians, p. 162.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.