Pioneer and Campaigner

Florence in her own words: Famine in India

Display No. 100

Unlike many in power, Nightingale believed every famine was an avoidable tragedy. In 1878, she was outraged at the government’s failure to address drought and famine in India.

In 1878 in ‘The People of India’ Nightingale condemned Britain for its disastrous mismanagement. The public was shocked and she gained considerable support for her cause. She wrote:

“We do not care for the people of India… Between five and six million have perished in this famine… How can we realise what the misery is of every one of those figures: a living soul, slowly starving to death?”

Famine in Bangalore, India: a group of emaciated women and children. Photograph attributed to Willoughby Wallace Hooper, 1876/1878. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY 4.0

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Nightingale is respected worldwide for her pioneering role in developing the nursing profession, her statistical work, and her evidence-based approach to healthcare. In honour of her bicentenary the World Health Organisation have named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

In our special exhibition, you will find out about objects, people and places which tell interesting stories about Florence’s life and legacy. You’ll discover artefacts from her life, people she both inspired and challenged, and places she helped to shape. There’s many more insights too!

Please click on the different sections of her famous coxcomb diagram to explore various aspects of her life and legacy. We hope you enjoy exploring!