Nurses in the Victorian Era
By Karyn Gerrard, Author of Love With a Notorious Rake, Men of Wollstonecraft Hall Series
Modern nursing as we know of it today had a rather inauspicious beginning. My new release, Love with a Notorious Rake, takes place in the 1840s, a time when there was no formal training to be a nurse. The heroine of my story luckily trained under her doctor father.
In the early Victorian age, nursing was regarded as simple, menial work, the lowest form of domestic service. Many nurses in the asylums and workhouses were inmates who worked for little or no wage. The women in these positions learned as they go, often by trial and error.
By the 1850s, nursing sisterhoods formed, consisting of wealthy young women and middle class women (and some nuns) eager to train and offer their skills to the poor. Some of these nurses even worked in teaching hospitals, but due to a financial dispute, the contracts were terminated. But this group of dedicated women set the tone for nursing for the rest of the Victorian age, giving it an air of respectability due to their good works. However, it still was not considered a paid position. Nor was it given any respect.
Nursing became even more prominent as a career for women when Florence Nightingale burst upon the scene. During the Crimea War (1853-1856) Nightingale and two hundred and seventeen women (a mixture of classes and several Catholic and Anglican nuns) garnered plenty of publicity for their courageous nursing deeds at the front. Their valor and sacrifice to bring care and comfort to the wounded soldiers in dangerous conditions captured Great Britain’s interest. Florence Nightingale immediately became the face for what a nurse should be.
Taking what the nursing sisterhoods had put in place a decade earlier; Florence Nightingale started her own nursing training school in 1860 at St. Thomas Hospital in London. It became the standard for nurse study and training throughout the world for the next one hundred and fifty years.
In the matter of two decades, nursing was raised from an unpaid menial job to a respected profession. The establishment of The British Nursing Association in 1887 further raised the status, especially when Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Christian (Helena), served as its first president. Nursing had become one of the more popular professions for young middle-class ladies of the time.
About Love With a Notorious Rake
He’s as dangerous as he is irresistible . . .
The heir to his family’s fortune, Aidan Wollstonecraft is ready to put his prodigal ways in the past and prove himself worthy of his illustrious name. Going undercover in a factory to expose the wretched working conditions, Aidan believes his noble act will lead him to a better future. Until he’s reunited with the sweet beauty who saw him through his darkest days. Cristyn Bevan stirs him like no other woman before. Makes him yearn to claim her, despite the damning curse that dooms any Wollstonecraft wife to an all-too-early death.
To fall for Aidan would be her undoing. Yet, something about the blue-blooded scoundrel draws Cristyn to him like a moth to a deadly flame. Is it a desire to heal him that keeps the lovely nurse close? Or her secret hope that somehow, some way, Aidan can let go of his dark past and see the light—and the love—waiting for him?
About the Author
Karyn Gerrard, born and raised in the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Canada, now makes her home in a small town in Northwestern Ontario. When she’s not cheering on the Red Sox or travelling in the summer with her teacher husband, she writes, reads romance, and drinks copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.
Even at a young age, Karyn’s storytelling skills were apparent, thrilling her fellow Girl Guides with off-the-cuff horror stories around the campfire. A multi-published author, she loves to write sensual historicals and contemporaries. Tortured heroes are an absolute must.
As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise, she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement and loving support keeps her moving forward. To learn more about Karyn and her books, visit www.karyngerrard.com or on the social media platforms below.