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Florence Nightingale’s Sister (Hardback)

The Lesser-Known Activism of Parthenope Verney

Hobbies & Lifestyle > Medicine & Health P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Social History Women of History

By Lynn Hamilton
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 25 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399066808
Published: 6th April 2023



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They say that behind every great man is a hard-working woman. Behind the titanic that was Florence Nightingale, there was a lesser-known sister, Frances Parthenope. While Florence achieved iconic fame for her work with wounded soldiers in the Crimea, Parthenope spent her days gathering supplies for those same soldiers, especially the ever-needed dry socks, and sending them overseas. With hands badly damaged by rheumatic fever, Parthenope tirelessly penned letters to Florence’s supporters and tactfully requested donations. Eventually, Parthenope married and turned her writing talents to fiction and non-fiction that exposed Victorian injustices toward the poor and women.

Florence Nightingale’s older sister never achieved the fame that came to the “Lady of the Lamp.” However, in her own right, Frances Parthenope Verney was a great Victorian. A novelist, journalist, and activist, she supported her sister’s reform of the medical profession while being a thought influencer on the subject of the urban poor and the British peasantry.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Lynn Hamilton brings Frances Parthenope Nightingale Verney to life in this book, bringing her out of her younger sister’s spotlight. Parthe, as the Nightingale family and Hamilton call her, received the same wonderful education as her famous sister, but Parthe used her education to follow a very different path, eventually marrying and becoming a moderately famous author. Hamilton highlights the strange dynamic between Parthe and her sister Florence, who often acted like the elder sister, and explores their relationship and their different perspectives on their relationship. Hamilton’s analysis of Parthe and Florence’s personal papers helps her unpack their relationship and the difficulties of sustaining a relationship between two very different personalities. Hamilton appropriately gives Parthe her due, going into detail about Parthe’s three books and her many other pieces and fully unpacking their significance within the context of the Victorian era. While Florence Nightingale does have a significant role in the book, she does not, for once, overshadow her sister, and Hamilton handles this well, spotlighting their relationship but still focusing on Parthe, not Florence. Hamilton’s prose and analysis enhance the primary documents and create a vivid picture of Parthe and her life in the nineteenth century.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this insight in to the sister of Florence Nightingale. I found it an easy read. As a nurse myself I have always been interested in FN and this was an added bonus. Well recommended

NetGalley, Carole Crowson

About Lynn Hamilton

Lynn Hamilton is a writer who divides her time between Louisville, Kentucky and Blue Ridge, Georgia. She is the author of Florence Nightingale: A Life Inspired, The Dalai Lama: A Life InspiredGandhi: A Life Inspired, and Clay-foot Titan: An Agenda For Improving Wikipedia. She holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Loyola University of Chicago where she specialized in the Victorian period. She is the publisher of AnimalRightsChannel.com, a website devoted to saving wildlife and pet welfare. She lives with her husband, Joel Worth and their companion animals.

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