Florence Nightingale is very famous for her work as a nurse during the Crimean War, a hospital reformer and a humanitarian. However, what is less known from this British woman is her love for mathematics, especially statistics. Named after her hometown, Nightingale was born in Villa Colombia in Florence, Italy, on the 12th May 1820, she was raised, by her parents, William Edward Nightingale and his wife Frances. She had an older sister named Parthenope. Florence was raised mostly in Derbyshire, England and received a thorough classical education from her father, she loved her lessons and loved to study. Thanks to her father, Florence became reading classics, Descartes, Aristotle, the Bible and political matters.

He also taught her Greek, Latin, French, German and Italian. In 1840, she begged her parents to let her study mathematics instead of "worsted work and practising quadrilles". But Frances, her mother didn't approved it and her father thought that it will be better is she studied subjects more appropriate for a woman. After many arguments, her parents gave her permission to be tutored in math. She studied with Sylvester, who developed the theory of invariants. She was said to be Sylvester's best pupil.

They studied arithmetic, geometry and algebra. Florence was interested in social issues, and had the necessity to help. She had the idea of gaining some medical experience, but her family was completely against it. In those times, nursing wasn't a suitable profession for well educated woman, because of the lack of training and bad reputation of being ignorant and promiscuous.

In 1849 she went abroad to study the European hospital system, and in 1850 she began training in nursing at the Institute of Saint Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt, which was a hospital run by the Roman Catholic Church In March, 1854, the Crimean War began. Reports soon begin appearing in newspapers about the disgraceful conditions being endured by the sick and bloody British soldiers. Florence volunteered at once and was eventually given permission to take a group of thirty-eight nurses to Turkey. Florence found the conditions in the army hospital in Scutari.

The men were kept in rooms without blankets or decent food. Unwashed, they were still wearing their army uniforms that were "stiff with dirt and gore". In these conditions, it was not surprising that in army hospitals, war wounds only accounted for one death in six Military officers and doctors objected to Florence's views on reforming military hospitals. They interpreted her comments as an attack on their professionalism and she was made to feel unwelcome. Florence received very little help from the military.

In 1856 Florence Nightingale returned to England as a national heroine. She had been deeply shocked by the lack of hygiene and elementary care that the men received in the British Army. Florence therefore decided to begin a campaign to improve the quality of of nursing in military hospitals. Using her statistics and math education, she illustrated the need for sanitary reform in all military hospitals. While pressing her case, Florence gained the attention of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as well as that of the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Florence founded the Nightingale School and Home for Nurses at Saint Thomas's Hospital in London.

The opening of this school marked the beginning of professional education in nursing. For most of the remainder of her life Nightingale was confined due to an illness contracted in the Crimea, which prevented her from continuing her own work as a nurse. This illness did not stop her, however, campaigning to improve the health standards, she published 200 books, reports and pamphlets. One of these publications was a book titled Notes on Nursing (1860). This was the first textbook specifically for use in the teaching of nurses and was translated into many languages. In later life Florence Nightingale suffered from poor health and in 1895 went blind.

Soon afterwards, the loss of other faculties meant she had to receive full-time nursing. Although a complete invalid she lived another fifteen years before her death in London on 13th August, 1910. web web web web Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.