Next up on our Sunday list of real-life spinsters comes the Lady of the Lamp…

9. Florence Nightingale

Famous for her role in the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale revolutionized how nursing was seen and practiced, especially regarding the treatment of soldiers during foreign wars. She was also a gifted mathematician, and turned her keen and logical mind toward the prevention of illness in hospitals. Many of the very common practices involving sanitation that we take for granted today gained attention through her work.

While Nightingale may sometimes falls short of the modern definition of a feminist, her ideas about women’s roles and responsibilities were very forward-thinking for the time. In fact, her contributions to the practice of medicine drastically changed Victorians’ ideas about women working in traditionally male fields.  Her achievements are even more impressive when we consider that she was from a prominent aristocratic family, in which women didn’t hold jobs.

Nightingale is an inspirational, real-life spinster because she didn’t let social standards dictate her life. She had a dream and pursued it, despite the fact that it had never been done before. By daring to show her mental brilliance, she proved that women and men could be intellectual equals. And through it all she lived devoutly single life.

In short, she broke down nearly every Victorian stereotype about women, pushing us all into the modern age.


If you’d like to learn more about Florence Nightingale’s incredible life, here are a few excellent resources:

  • Books

Florence Nightingale: The Making of a Radical Theologian

Life or Death in India

  • Website

3 Ways Florence Nightingale Brought Innovation to Nursing


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Top 10 Real Life Spinsters: Florence Nightingale

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