Florence Nightingale letters found in desk in Derbyshire

Letter penned by Florence NightingaleImage copyright

Image caption

The letters were recently discovered in a Victorian desk, where they had lain for decades

Letters penned by Florence Nightingale demonstrating her “boundless kindness and compassion” have been found inside a Victorian desk.

Seven missives written by the nursing pioneer between 1892 and 1894 had lain undiscovered at the house in Holloway, Derbyshire, for decades, auctioneers Hansons said.

Nightingale was in poor health when she wrote them to the carer of a woman named Hannah Allen.

They will be auctioned on Tuesday.

Ms Allen lived in Holloway near Nightingale’s former family home.

Image copyright
Wikipedia/Henry Hering/National Portrait Gallery

Image caption

Nightingale was in poor health when she wrote the letters

Nightingale refers to her as “Sister Hannah Allen” and a “good old friend”.

In one, Nightingale mentions her poor physical state, saying: “You will excuse my short pencil note for I am as usual overwhelmed with work and illness and very unequal to writing a single unnecessary line.”

Jim Spencer, an expert at Hansons auctioneers, said the letters were a “wonderful find”.

He said: “They epitomise all that Nightingale stood for – boundless kindness and compassion and the importance of gaining the right care.”

The seller inherited the letters in 1986 and recently discovered them in the desk.

Each letter and a book inscribed for Ms Allen by Nightingale is expected to to fetch £1,000.

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to

BBC News