Volume 8 makes available a great range of Florence Nightingale's work on women: her pioneering study of maternal mortality in childbirth (Introductory Notes on Lying-in Institutions), her opposition to the regulation of prostitution through the Contagious Diseases Acts (attempts to stop the legislation and otherwise to facilitate the voluntary treatment of syphilitic prostitutes), her views on gender roles, marriage and measures for income security for women and excerpts from her draft (abandoned) novel. There is correspondence with women friends and colleagues from childhood to old age, on a vast range of subjects. Correspondents include old family friends, royal and notable personages, nuns and colleagues in various causes. Most of this material has not been published before and some letters will be new even to Nightingale scholars. Altogether a very different view of Nightingale emerges from what normally appears in biographies and other secondary sources. This material will enable a new assessment of her feminism, her relations with women and her contribution to improving the status of women of her time.
Lynn McDonald is a professor of sociology at the University of Guelph, Ontario, a former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Canadas largest womens organisation, and a former Member of Parliament. She herself has been a public health advocate. As a Member of the Canadian Parliament, she succeeded in getting the Non-smokers Health Act adopted in 1988 as a private members bill. It not only made Parliamentary history (aside from the fact that McDonald was the first Ms in the House of Commons) but it also made Canada a leader in the tobacco wars. She is the author of several books on women theorists.