Several nurses have made their mark on history. It is inspiring to read about their lives. Florence Nightingale felt called to a life of service and pursued nursing against the wishes of her family. When Britain entered the Crimean War, she went to Crimea. She passionately worked for the proper care of wounded soldiers, recognizing the need for sanitary conditions, basic nursing care and adequate nutrition. Cecil Woodham Smith is the author of a detailed biography of Florence Nightingale*.
Sixty years later another nurse would have an impact during wartime. Edith Cavell was directing a rapidly expanding nursing school and clinic in Brussels when WWI broke out. Edith was a woman of deep faith. She was dedicated to treating soldiers on both sides of the conflict. She was also a part of a network that allowed French and English soldiers to escape from German capture.
The Story of Edith Cavell** is part of a series of Signature Books written about famous men and women. The author, Iris Winton, begins the book with a description of Edith’s childhood. She was the daughter of a vicar in Swardeston, England. Following her education in boarding schools, she became a governess. She returned home to be the caregiver for her father’s illness, and then chose to pursue nursing. The story is told gently but honestly, following the actual events in Edith’s life. It concludes with the trial and execution of Edith. The book is meant for school age children, but would benefit from parental guidance.
Previously I reviewed a book about an Israeli nurse-midwife, Raquela Levy. Raquela provided midwife care to Jewish refugees arriving in Israel following WWII. You can read my review here.
I have also been reading mystery books about a fictional nurse, Bess Crawford. The novels are set in England and France during WWI. Bess provides surgical assistance and nursing care at the front. She is strong, determined to follow through difficulties for the sake of her patients. She heroically enters complex situations and brings resolution to mysterious events. The next book in the series, and on my list to read, is An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd.***
Bess is a fictional heroine. Florence Nightingale, Edith Cavell and Raquela are real heroines. I recommend the biographies for girls and young women. It is inspiring to learn about courageous women with an influence for good.
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*Cecil Woodham-Smith, Florence Nightingale, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1951.
**Iris Winton, The Story of Edith Cavell, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1959.
*** Charles Todd, An Impartial Witness, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.