NIGHTINGALE, Florence (1820-1910). Reformer of nursing.
Early Autograph Letter Signed to her Aunt Jenny, 6 pages 8vo on one bifolum and a leaf torn from another (possibly incomplete at the join), 'Sat'y night', 22 July . The date of 1843, when Florence would have been 23, is indicated by the fact that 22 July would not been a Saturday again during Florence Nightingale's lifetime until 1854.
Full of family gossip, mentioning several of the convoluted collection of her relatives, and rather significantly a visit from [Charles] Bracebridge, who, with his wife Selina, was to be a major influence on the young Florence's life.
With a blue envelope annotated in pencil 'Letter from Florence', which suggests that the writing is that of the recipient. Accompanied also by a typewritten letter from John Lucas (dated 1972) saying that the letter had been discovered at Shillington Manor was perhaps written to 'a Hawkins relative of mine'.
'Your note was two days on its road, Matlock being our post town, so that it found Shore [? a cousin] & me our own advisers, the father of one being gone to his mother's, & the mother & sister of one on a visit. Still I know we are quite capable of proclaiming on our own foundations, that you & yours, as many as you can bring, will be as welcome as flowers in May on the 31st for as long as you can stay. We can house a great many more than you propose bringing, & shall hope to see your whole party, if convenient, & wish Gerard [? a cousin] good bye before he becomes a Hofwyl [a school] boy, if you consider the journey worth the while of any of them. The coffee pot we must either beg house room for, or ask you to send it back to Whitehall till we come through London. I wish we could think Shore stronger but he is an earnest fellow, & your bab will have another nursing companion in him. The weather here is uncommon dull & astonished rather, I am afraid, a very entertaining Venetian lady-friend, who has been here this last week. But ... we will talk of all that when we see you, dear Aunt Jenny, as we long to do. I must only just tell you, that Mr. Bracebridge, (the author of the "Authentic Records of the Waldenses") who has been here for the Agricultural, read the Pastor Chief ['The Pastor Chief or The Escape of the Vaudois', a novel published anonymously (?by John Ramsay) in three volumes in 1843] while he was here & was charmed with it. They say it is selling remarkably well. Many kisses to all yours & ever your affecte. Florence Nightingale.The frequent re-use of first names, some of them derived from the surnames of relatives, and the fact the Florence's father, William Edward, had changed his own surname from Shore to Nightingale in 1815 and married a Smith (one of eleven children), makes identifications quite difficult. Florence's sister, Frances Parthenope, was named for the place of her birth, Naples [in the Greek original], and Florence herself similarly for her entry into the world in Italy. She had no brothers. The extreme longevity of many of the members of both sides of the family further confuses the matter.
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