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Social Science Women's Studies

Florence Nightingale on Women, Medicine, Midwifery and Prostitution

Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, Volume 8

edited by Lynn McDonald

Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2006
Women's Studies, Women's Health, Feminism & Feminist Theory
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2006
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2016
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2005
    List Price

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Volume 8: Florence Nightingale on Women, Medicine, Midwifery and Prostitution makes available a great range of Florence Nightingale’s work on women: her pioneering study of maternal mortality in childbirth (Introductory Notes on Lying-in Institutions), her opposition to the regulation of prostitution through the Contagious Diseases Acts (attempts to stop the legislation and otherwise to facilitate the voluntary treatment of syphilitic prostitutes), her views on gender roles, marriage and measures for income security for women and excerpts from her draft (abandoned) novel. There is correspondence with women friends and colleagues from childhood to old age, on a vast range of subjects. Correspondents include old family friends, royal and notable personages, nuns and colleagues in various causes. Most of this material has not been published before and some letters wil be new even to Nightingale scholars. Altogether a very different view of Nightingale emerges from what normally appears in biographies and other secondary sources. This material will enable a new assessment of her feminism, her relations with women and her contribution to improving the status of women of her time.

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.

About the author

Lynn McDonald is a professor of sociology at the University of Guelph, Ontario. She is a former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Canada’s largest women’s organization. As a Member of Parliament (the first “Ms” in the House of Commons), her Non-smokers Health Act made Parliamentary history as a private member’s bill, and made Canada a world leader in the “tobacco wars.” She is the author of The Early Origins of the Social Sciences (1993), and The Women Founders of the Social Sciences (1994) and editor of Women Theorists on Society and Politics (WLU Press, 1998), all of which have significant sections on Florence Nightingale.

Lynn McDonald's profile page


  • Commended, Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

Editorial Reviews

"The Collected Works will allow us to see for the first time the full complexity of this extraordinary and multifacted woman. It will be a tool of enormous value not only to Nightingale scholars and biographers, but also to historians of a wide variety of aspects of Victorian society: war, the army, public health nursing, religion, India, women's issues and so on."

Times Literary Supplement

"scholars from various backgrounds will benefit from this extensive and thorough collection."

Nursing History Review

"The details and explications of her views...are presented in carefully annotated and insightful editorial discussions....[These volumes] provide a more complete understanding of this complex woman, extending our appreciation of her much beyond the 'The Lady with the Lamp' legend.... The product of rigorous scholarship, of meticulous historical research--and a labour of love."

Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Volume 21/1

"The Collected Works of Florence Nightingale is an extremely ambitious project that is a great service to scholarship. Every general academic library should own the complete set. It pulls together material that has been hitherto diffused across more than 150 collections, some of them private ones, in places ranging from Germany to India and Japan, as well as numerous English-speaking countries."

Books and Culture

"These two books [Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, Volumes 8 and 9] cannot fail to be welcomed additions to the resource available to scholars of the Victorian age.... Nightingale was both a quintessential Victorian and a major reformer. Her writings illuminate many murky corners of Victorian life as well as the formidable level of activity of liberal reformers.... [M]ost readers will discover new and fascinating material. Nightingale's sharp, sometimes abrasive, wit and insight mean that much is a delight to read. Many nurses, for example, will give a wry smile when reading Nightingale's comment that 'people even now [1897] are not accustomed to the idea that nursing is a distinct department ... and not only a supplement to the doctors.' Then there are her occasional outbursts of frustration: 'All doctors to be locked up in lunatic asylums by act of Parliament. And all clergy and all men' -- and that was just the beginning of that particular note!... These volumes are essential purchases for any institution catering for scholars of the Victorian age."

University of Toronto Quarterly, Letters in Canada 2006, Volume 77, Number 1

"[I]t is clear that this is an academic project of the highest importance and integrity. It will have an impact on the work of scholars far beyond the immediate field of health history. Nightingale's interests were wide-ranging and her correspondence included some of the leading thinkers of her day....The editing of these volumes is exemplary. Every reference has been followed up, including the identification of minor dramatis personae. Important personalities are accorded short biographies. On every page there are biblical allusions, which are faithfully identified. Each thematic section has an introductory essay and these are amplified by a full outline of Nightingale's life and thought in volume 1. This project makes a major contribution to scholarship which will be of permanent value."

Ecclesiastical History

"This magnificent and devoted effort should be in every major research library or any library with collections on the changing role of women....Highly recommended."


"The Nightingale project ranks with both the Gladstone diaries and the Disraeli letters as a major undertaking in the field of Victorian-era scholarship, and therefore is of surpassing value to historians of the period, as well as to general readers."

Anglican and Episcopal History, Vol. 81 (1)

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