Florence Nightingale earned the nickname "The Lady With the Lamp" for her tireless nursing of British soldiers during the Crimean War. Nightingale was born to wealthy English parents and proved to be a quick-witted and independent child. In 1837 she felt she heard a call from God, though the nature of the calling was unclear. She became interested in nursing and, despite opposition from her parents, trained as a nurse and began work in a London clinic. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854, she led a group of three dozen nurses to Constantinople to serve in British military hospitals there. (This was controversial: female nurses had not served in such wartime field hospitals before.) No shrinking violet, she cajoled army officials to change terrible conditions in the hospitals, thus earning the gratitude of soldiers and a measure of public fame. When the war ended in 1856 she returned to London and continued her reform campaign there. Her outspoken Notes on Matters Affecting the Health, Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army
(1857) and Notes on Hospitals
(1859) helped create changes in hygiene and overall treatment of patients. She also founded the groundbreaking Nightingale Training School for nurses, and in later years published dozens of books and pamphlets on public health. Nightingale was awarded the Royal Red Cross by Queen Victoria
in 1883, and in 1907 became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit.