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Florence Nightingale was the indisputable heroine of the Crimean War during the conflict and after. Though she treated the cholera, her greatest success came in the realm of public opinion. The press bathed Nightingale, an unusually capable and energetic professional, in sentiment. Vaulted to celebrity, the Lady with the Lamp found her place in poems and on porcelain. Postwar labors in public health, nursing, and statistics across her long life had farther reaching effects. Yet, the image of the young Nightingale endured. She was the subject of statues, pageants, and radio shows; she became the emblem of the nursing profession. Complex and malleable, Nightingale was an icon of Englishness and a global heroine. She was an embodiment of Victorianism and a modernizing force. She inspired loyal proponents and fierce detractors. Nightingale bedeviled the army’s medical men in her lifetime; she attracted ire from modernist critics after her death. The greatest rebuke came from the British nursing profession; it discarded Nightingale as its emblem in favor of more current role models in 1989. This most enduring Victorian heroine was ultimately out of step with contemporary Britain.
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