Lot 2002

£800 - £1,200

Buyer's premium: 22.50%

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Lot details

FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE - a collection of autograph signed letters from Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) to her retired housekeeping couple Mary & John Bratby in her home village of Holloway.

Despite remaining in London due to severe illness after the Crimean War and working (mostly from her bed) to set up nursing hospitals and improve public sanitation, Florence kept an active interest in her old friends and acquaintances back at Holloway – sending money, arranging doctors visits, providing books for the local school and helping to open a coffee house and reading room. All this despite her own very poor health, which she also mentions in these letters, but never seems to prevent her from caring for others.


1879, 26th April, from 10 South Street to Mary (Bratby); stating that she has heard from Mr (Dr) Dunn that she is ill again, Mrs Nightingale & Mr Shore have both had bronchitis, Bryson(?) has passed his entrance exams at Cambridge, has sent down some Cocoatina care of Mr Yeomans at Whatstandwell Station.

One lined sheet of paper written both sides, signed F. Nightingale.

1879, Envelope addressed to Mrs Bratby, The Cottage, Holloway, stamped from London March 14th, bearing penny red stamp

1880, 2nd February, from 10 South Street to Mary; informing her and Bratby that her mother has died quite peacefully, the details leading up to her death, and how it appeared “she longed to go home”.

One lined sheet of paper written both sides, signed F. Nightingale and further initialed F.N. to a post-script.

1881, 17th November, from Lea Hurst (one of the Nightingale’s inherited estates in Derbyshire) to Mary; talks about peaceful death of Martha(?), asks whether she wants to go to an entertainment at the Holloway School on Saturday.

Folded card written one side and with faint ‘rubbed-out’ hand-writing verso, initialed FN

1883, 31st January, from 10 South Street to Mary; discussing Bratby’s recent illness and their forthcoming move back from Ramsgate, she offers to send money to settle their affairs, also mentions Mrs Shore Smith (a relation of the Nightingales) and the possibility of them staying at Yorke Place on their way unless the house is let, “let us both Dear Mary trust in the Almighty love and He will keep us in the apple of His eye”.

Folded headed paper written on four sides, signed F. Nightingale and further initialed F.N. to a post-script.

Mary appears to have died in the interim as the following letters are addressed to Bratby (John) alone.

1883, 3rd October, from Claydon House (home of her sister and brother-in-law) to Bratby (John); is sorry not to be able to visit, but cannot leave poor Lady Verney as Sir Harry is abroad, asks for him to take on Mary’s role of helping her provide for people in the village – gives a list including Martha Sheldon, Widow Barton “one of the best women that ever lived”, Lydia Prince “who might be comfortable if Adam were a better man”, Mrs Brown, the Sisters Allen and several others.

Two sheets lined paper written on three sides, signed F. Nightingale and further initialed F.N. to a post-script.

1887, 26th January, from 10 South Street to Bratby; sending a cheque, Lady Verney & Sir Harry are visiting and both well despite their afflictions, Mr Shore is poorly, thank you for information regarding friends and for helping them during the winter.

Card with bottom section of second page cut away, no signature.

1887, 13th December, from at 10 South Street to Bratby; sending the £5 she mistakenly didn’t send last time, discusses the poor weather and people they know who are ill, please apologise to friends that she will be unable to send Christmas cards this year, is obliged to go away “for a time in perfect solitude” to put off the complete breaking up “if it be God’s will” and the loss of her eyesight but letters will be forwarded to her, “God bless you and all my Holloway friends, Pray have Dr Dunn”.

One lined sheet written both sides, signed F. Nightingale.

1888, June 5th, from 10 South Street to Bratby; she is sorry that he is suffering so much with his eyes and hopes glasses will help, will send more Cocoatina, did not understand Mrs Brocklehurst’s letter but was too ill to follow up, Lady Verney is very bad, it was kind of Mr Wild to pay for Adam Prince at the hospital and she trusts that Adam will now “leave off drink entirely”, she has heard that Hannah Allen “had a delusion that she was being poisoned”, please pass on kindest regards to Martha Sheldon, her own eyes are very bad and she has hardly left her bed for weeks.

One lined sheet written to both sides, no signature.

1889, 7th May, from 10 South Street to Bratby; sending £5 so he is not short of cash and can buy his own newspapers, Mrs Shore is in London and may visit Lea Hurst, Mr Shore will return Barbara back to school at Brighton, Rosalind (Nash nee Shore-Smith) is at Albert Hall Mansions working hard, Sam has gone back to St Bartholemew’s Hospital, and Louis is at Oxford, Mrs Clough & Flossie are staying with friends in the New Forest (widow & daughter of late friend and relation by marriage Arthur Hugh Clough), Thera(?) is at Cambridge, Sir Harry & Lady Verney are staying with her “sadly altered but full of energy”.

Two lined sheets written to one side of each, each sheet signed F. Nightingale.

1890, 25th February, from 10 South Street to Bratby; she is sorry that he is suffering and urges him to send for a doctor, Mrs Brocklehurst has mentioned Lydia (Prince) but she did not say that he had got her the pair of blankets, “I want to make her comfortable”, she has asked Mr Yeomans to pay for a woman to clean for her, asks after Adam and assumes he wants some books now he is in bed, sent more Cocoatina.

One lined sheet of paper written both sides, signed F. Nightingale and further initialed F.N. to a post-script.

Undated note on headed card from Claydon House, possibly missing parts as it is disjointed and bears no name for intended recipient; Lady Verney has changed very much for the worse “but her courage is unfailing”, she herself has barely been able to leave her room, Sir Harry is active but ages, Lydia Prince is having problems with her son Adam and she is wondering whether to give her more.

Folded headed card written both sides, signed F Nightingale.

Other items included in the lot:

23rd July (no year but George V stamp), Florence Nightingale picture postcard to Miss Hooley in Kent from Arthur H in Holloway, news about local cricket match and summer fete.

14th Feb 1958 copy will of Miss Sarah Eveline Hooley, a relation of the Bratbys (through which this collection passed into the vendor’s family).

Two sheets of a childs handwriting practice.

Several late 20th century typescripts of letters which are not present, mainly also regarding local people and events.


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Friday 10th 10am-7pm 

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