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A Lock of Florence Nightingale's Hair

12th June 2024.

A lock of pioneering nurse and social reformer Florence Nightingale's hair is coming up for sale at Tennants Auctioneers on 13th July with an estimate of £2,000-3,000 (all figures exclude buyer's premium). The lock of hair, which is thought to have been cut in 1883 when she was 63 years old, is sold alongside an example of her signature on a clipped piece of paper, a leather-bound copy of the 'Order for the Burial of the Dead' published for her funeral in 1910, and a miniature copy of The Book of Job, inscribed "Harry Verney from Wm Nightingale [Florence's father] Embley April 1862" . The items have descended through the Verney family from Sir Harry Verney (1801-1894), who married Florence Nightingale's sister Frances Parthenope in 1858. They have since been passed down through the same family.

Florence Nightingale, dubbed 'The Lady with a Lamp' by the press of the era, was the founder of modern nursing, a social reformer and pioneer of statistics. Having been born into a wealthy family, she was well educated by her liberal father who believed in educating women. Rejecting the expectations of society and her family to wed and produce children, she instead followed her calling and became a nurse. She rose to prominence for her efforts in caring for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War; the changes she implemented and fought for in improving hygiene and care for the injured significantly reduced death rates. On her return from the War, she would go on to found the first secular nursing school, St Thomas' Hospital, London, and strive for improved healthcare for all, the acceptance of women into the workforce, and the abolition of prostitution laws that were excessively harsh on women. 


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