Inspirational Quotes: Florence Nightingale | Social Reformer & Founder of Modern Nursing

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was a British social reformer and founder of modern nursing, who came to prominence during the Crimean War.

Born in Italy to a British family, Nightingale served as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War, where she organised care for wounded soldiers.

During this time, she was also given the nickname, ‘The Lady with the Lamp’, from a phrase in a report in The Times, while making rounds of soldiers at night.

Following the war, in 1860, Nightingale established her nursing school at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, laying the foundations for professional nursing.

In recognition her work in nursing, the Nightingale Pledge is taken by new nurses and the Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest international distinction for nurses. The annual International Nurses Day is celebrated on Nightingale’s birthday – 12th May.

Nightingale was also responsible for bringing about social reforms, such as improving healthcare across all of British society, expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce, and abolishing harsh prostitution laws.

Below, we take a look at some of Florence Nightingale’s most inspiring quotes


“Rather, ten times, die in the surf, heralding the way to a new world, than stand idly on the shore.”

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.”

“Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it.”

“To be ‘in charge’ is certainly not only to carry out the proper measures yourself but to see that everyone else does so too.”

“How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.”

“Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”

“I attribute my success to this – I never gave or took any excuse.”

“I am certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”

“The first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.”

“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.”

“I do see the difference now between me and other men. When a disaster happens, I act and they make excuses.”


WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.

Alison Simpson
About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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