Local author investigates the secret life of Florence NightingaleA chance discovery of a letter in the archives of Holy Trinity Church, Easton Royal led Elizabeth Johnson on a quest to discover the truth about Florence Nightingale’s early life. The result is a work of historical fiction, ‘A Divine Experience.’
The letter drew attention to the impressive marble memorial and east facing stained glass window in Holy Trinity Church which are dedicated to David Herbert Llewellyn who died in tragic circumstances in 1864. Although he was brought up as the son of the vicar of Easton Royal, there is evidence to suggest that David was the illegitimate son of Sidney Herbert of Wilton House and MP for South Wiltshire.
After extensive research, Liz believes that it is, “Highly possible that his mother was in fact a sixteen year old Florence Nightingale who at the time was living at Embley Park, only ten miles from Wilton.”
It is well documented that Florence Nightingale believed she was called by God to do something greater with her life. “Having a child,” says Liz, “could have been the catalyst that sent Florence on her path to nursing.”
Liz spent over two years writing ‘A Divine Experience’ which was published last October. She told marlborough.news, “In my research it was interesting the way I came across all these little links that explained the gaps. I enjoyed expanding the characters and I got very involved with them. I tried to work out how they would react in certain situations and I fell totally in love with Sidney!”
In order to make the work as authentic as possible Liz also researched and read extensively about the Crimean war, Victorian life and medical training and even the early days of Marlborough College. One of her characters, David Herbert Llewellyn attended the school.
The book, Liz believes, challenges the view of Florence Nightingale as a staid old spinster who dedicated her life to nursing. It is available from The White Horse Bookshop and Amazon.