Go back to article: A statistical campaign: Florence Nightingale and Harriet Martineau’s England and her Soldiers


This essay is an account of the making of England and her Soldiers (1859) by Harriet Martineau and Florence Nightingale. The book is a literary account of the Crimean War, written by Martineau and based on Nightingale’s statistical studies of mortality during the conflict. Nightingale was passionate about statistics and healthcare. Whilst working as a nurse in the Crimea, she witnessed thousands of soldiers die of infectious diseases that might have been prevented with proper sanitation. After the war, she launched a campaign to convince the British government to make permanent reforms to military healthcare, compiling a dataset on mortality in the Crimea. She worked with the government’s Royal Commission investigating healthcare during the war, but also worked privately with Martineau to publicise her findings. Martineau and Nightingale grasped that the lay reader was more receptive to statistical information in a literary format than in dense statistical reports. As such, Nightingale’s data was interwoven with Martineau’s text. The pair illustrated their book with Nightingale’s ‘Rose Diagram’, a statistical graphic which simply illustrated the rate of mortality.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/160504/001