WILD SWAN A Story of Florence Nightingale
by Patti Callahan and performed by Cynthia Erivo
In this captivating historical novella narrated by Tony Award-winning actress Cynthia Erivo, New York Times bestselling author (Becoming Mrs. Lewis) Patti Callahan celebrates the life of the mother of modern nursing and one of history's greatest heroines: Florence Nightingale.
WILD SWAN introduces listeners to the Lady with the Lamp long before she became a legend. In this poignant story, a young woman has just discovered her divine purpose to become a nurse and struggles to make that dream a reality. While traveling abroad with her close friend, Selina Bracebridge—another strong woman living an unconventional life—a rare opportunity arises for Florence to practice medicine. Intellectually gifted with an advanced education thanks to her father’s progressive political views, can the daughter of a prominent English family defy Victorian societal and familial expectations to fulfill her destiny and her dreams?
Over the course of a few short years, Florence remains brave and determined in the face of all obstacles, pursuing her passion against her family’s wishes. From her parent’s luxurious countryside estate in England to her travels abroad to the German medical institute where she first began her training and fell in love with her work, we follow Florence during these pivotal early years of her extraordinary life.
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A Letter from the Author
It is the year 2020, the year of the nurse, the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was a woman who never set out to build a saintly reputation, to become a myth, or to be surrounded by an ethos of hero worship. What she did do was set out to break societal bonds and familial expectations to fulfill what she felt was her life’s destiny and purpose. Like most good nurses, she felt called to the profession.
As always, with any legend, real and true life is hidden. What precedes the lore are actual choices and tipping points. She was, above all the merits and stories and books and what she called “fuzz buzz”, a woman who fought for a life of her own, a wild swan’s life.
How are we to know anything in the middle of our actions? And how can we ever guess if we will inspire someone years down the road? Just like Florence, we can’t know. But we can answer the call to our passions and our work. Answering the call was up to her; but what happened after that was not. How could she have known what was to pass? She did the next right thing and didn’t give up. She persevered and she suffered and she never moved from the utter assurance that she was to be a nurse.
I was inspired to tell these lesser-known stories of Florence’s life because before I was a novelist, I was a nurse, a pediatric nurse with a master’s degree in child health. I understood Florence’s obsession and passion. Of course, I didn’t need to break through societal or familial forbiddance of such a career; I was supported and even encouraged in my choice! And I know that much of that change is due to the bravery and influence of Florence Nightingale.
I hope that in WILD SWAN you met Florence well before mythology took her name and changed it to The Lady with the Lamp. And I hope she inspires you as she inspired me!
About the Narrator
Actress. Singer. Songwriter
Cynthia Erivo is a Tony®, Emmy® and Grammy Award-winning actress as well as a SAG, double Golden Globe®, and double Academy Award®-nominee. Erivo burst onto West End and Broadway stages in “The Color Purple” and has since taken the big screen by storm.
Erivo currently stars on the HBO series “The Outsider,” which premiered on January 12, 2020. The series is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.
Erivo recently starred in Kasi Lemmons’ “Harriet”, where she brought the legacy of African American civil rights activist Harriet Tubman to the big screen. The film follows Harriet Tubman as she escapes slavery and goes on to lead the Underground Railroad (2019) and Double Oscar nominee Erivo received Academy Award nominations for (2020) Best Actress and Best Original Song, "Stand Up" from "Harriet". Tony-winner Cynthia Erivo will join the star-studded cast of the upcoming "Chaos Walking" (2021) based on the 2008 novel by Patrick Ness. Read More.
About the Heroine
Social Reformer. Statistician. Founder of Modern Medicine.
Florence Nightingale, OM, RRC, DStJ was an English social reformer, statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale was a trailblazing figure in nursing who greatly affected 19th- and 20th-century policies around proper medical care. She was known for her night rounds to aid the wounded, establishing her image as the 'Lady with the Lamp.' Nightingale was a prodigious and versatile writer. In her lifetime, much of her published work was concerned with spreading medical knowledge. Read More.
About the Author
Author. Podcast Host.
Patti Callahan is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist of fifteen novels, including the historical fiction BECOMING MRS. LEWIS—The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis and host of the podcast collection. In addition, she is the recipient of The Christy Award—-A 2019 Winner "Book of the Year." The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019, and the RNA UK finalist for Romantic Historical Fiction.
Patti is the co-creator and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends and Fiction featuring five bestselling authors. Her newest novel SURVIVING SAVANNAH will be released on March 9, 2021, by Penguin Random House/Berkley Publishing.