Frances Parthenope Verney

Frances Parthenope Verney, Lady Verney (née Nightingale; 19 April 1819 - 12 May 1890)[1] was an English writer and journalist.

Frances Parthenope Verney
Frances Parthenope Verney (standing) painted with her sister, Florence, c. 1836 by William White.
Frances Parthenope Nightingale

(1819-04-19)April 19, 1819
DiedMay 12, 1890(1890-05-12) (aged 71)
OccupationWriter, Journalist
Spouse(s)Harry Verney, 2nd Baronet (m. 1858)
RelativesFlorence Nightingale (sister)


Parthenope was born in Naples, Italy and was named after its Greek predecessor, Parthenope. She was the oldest daughter and child of William Nightingale and his wife, Frances Smith. After her parent's three-year tour in Italy, Parthenope and her sister Florence moved to Embley Park, their father's estate in Hampshire, England. Parthenope and her sister were educated at home by a governess, although their father later taught them Greek, Latin, German, French, Italian, history and philosophy. Despite being less scholarly than her sister, Parthenope was fluent in French and developed a love for literature and art.[2]

Although at first opposed to her sister becoming a nurse,[3] Parthenope became an active supporter of Florence's work during the Crimean War.[2]

Marriage and careerEdit

On 24 June 1858, Parthenope married her sister's rejected suitor, Harry Verney, 2nd Baronet, MP for Buckingham, a supporter of liberal causes and possessor of the family seat, Claydon House. After marriage, the new Lady Verney was able to develop her own talents independent of the shadow of her more famous sister; she soon turned Claydon House into a salon for interesting people[2] and was responsible for extensively remodelling and restoring Claydon House.[4] She preserved and catalogued the family papers, and began scholarly research into the Verney family. She also began writing stories and articles for Fraser's Magazine, Cornhill Magazine, and Macmillan's Magazine. She also published five novels; Avenhoe (1867), Stone Edge (1868), a Lettice Lisle (1870), Fernyhurst Court (1871) Llanaly Reefs (1873)[5] and a two-volume book, Peasant Properties and Other Selected Essays. Much of her writing concerned social questions of the day, and ranged from essays on "class morality" to reporting on "the Miseries of War", social differences between the poor of other nations, and religion.[5]

Later yearsEdit

In later years, the two sisters lived near each other on South Street, London.[4]

Parthenope began suffering from arthritis in the 1880's,[6]which despite the employment of a secretary, impeded her writing and resulted in her becoming bedridden.

After a long illness with cancer, she died in May 1890 aged 71 at Claydon House. After her death two collections of her works were published: Essays and Tales and The Grey Pool and Other Stories. Her work on the Verney family papers was completed and published by Margaret Verney as Memoirs of the Verney Family during the Seventeenth Century.[2]


  1. ^ Also known as Frances Parthenope Nightingale; Frances, Lady Verney; Parthenope Nightingale; Parthe; 'Pop'; Parthenope Verney; Lady Frances Verney.
  2. ^ a b c d Haigh, John (23 September 2004). "Verney [née Nightingale], Frances Parthenope, Lady Verney". English Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  3. ^ McDonald, Lynn (2001). Florence Nightingale: an introduction to her life and family. Wilifred Laurier U. Press. pp. 834–835. ISBN 0-88920-387-3.
  4. ^ a b Bostridge, Mark (2008). Florence Nightingale: The Woman and Her Legend. London: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-87411-8.
  5. ^ a b Mackerness, E. D. (1958). "Frances Parthenope, Lady Verney (1819-1890)". The Journal of Modern History. 30 (2): 131–136. doi:10.1086/238200. ISSN 0022-2801. JSTOR 1872758.
  6. ^ McQueen, Joyce Schroeder (2017). D’Antonio, Patricia (ed.). "Florence Nightingale's Nursing Practice". Nursing History Review. Springer Publishing Company. 15: 36–37. ISBN 9780826114693 – via Google Books.

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