Florence Nightingale: Just a publicity-seeker?

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She is one of the nation’s most revered heroines, the determined Lady with the Lamp who saved the lives of wounded British soldiers in the Crimea and pioneered modern nursing. But not everybody in Victorian Britain loved Florence Nightingale.

She was, according to a prominent figure whose nose she badly put out of joint in the Crimea, a meddlesome and arrogant publicity-seeker who found it easier to make enemies than friends.

Unpublished letters written by Sir John Hall, the chief British army medical officer in the Crimea, that have just come to light paint a strikingly ungenerous picture of the woman still eulogised almost a century after her death.

“Miss Nightingale shows an ambitious struggling after power inimical to the true interests of the medical department,” Sir John complained to his superior in London.

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