Florence Nightingale’s letter reveals how she was looking for a friend to adopt her cat named Mr Bismarck

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A quirky letter from British heroine Florence Nightingale about her little-mentioned love of cats went up for sale 144 years later.

Nightingale, who became known as ‘Lady with the Lamp’ after serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, owned 60 felines throughout her life.

At one point, she owned as many as 17 at a time.

In one of three letters to a neighbor, she asks if she knows a ‘cat lover’ who might want to take one of her pets, Mr Bismarck – to Germany’s prominent Chancellor.

Florence also named her cats after other prominent men of the day, such as British Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.

She took Mr. Bismarck into her home when a friend of hers moved abroad and they couldn’t take the cat.

Although she tried to find the Tom cat a good new home, it is believed that she eventually kept it.

The letters, which date back to 1877, will be sold tomorrow at the Bamfords auction house in Derby, with a combined estimate of £ 1,300.

A quirky letter from British heroine Florence Nightingale about her little-mentioned love of cats went up for sale 144 years later

A quirky letter from British heroine Florence Nightingale about her little-mentioned love of cats went up for sale 144 years later

Nightingale, who became known as 'Lady with the Lamp' after serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, owned 60 felines throughout her life

Nightingale, who became known as 'Lady with the Lamp' after serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, owned 60 felines throughout her life

Nightingale, who became known as ‘Lady with the Lamp’ after serving as a nurse during the Crimean War, owned 60 felines throughout her life

Mr. Bismarck would have been one of her favorites. He ate on a precise schedule of china plates, and his diet included rice pudding.

Florence wrote the letter from Lea Hurst, her family’s country retreat in Derbyshire, in August 1877, when she was said to have been 57 years old.

She wrote: ‘If you know a cat lover who would like a very handsome thoroughbred, powerful tomcat, a Persian about a year old, Mr. Bismarck by name, black brown and yellow, without a speck of white, who will follow like a dog.

‘A great pet. I am looking for a very good home for my Bismarck that I cannot keep.

‘He was sent to me from London a day or two ago because the lady who asked me for him couldn’t take him abroad.

In her letter, written to a neighbor, she asks if she knows a 'cat lover' who might want to take one of her pets, Mr Bismarck - to the prominent Chancellor of Germany

In her letter, written to a neighbor, she asks if she knows a 'cat lover' who might want to take one of her pets, Mr Bismarck - to the prominent Chancellor of Germany

In her letter, written to a neighbor, she asks if she knows a ‘cat lover’ who might want to take one of her pets, Mr Bismarck – to the prominent Chancellor of Germany

Florence wrote the letter from Lea Hurst, her family's country retreat in Derbyshire, in August 1877, when she was said to have been 57 years old.  Pictured: Auctioneer James Lewis with the letter

Florence wrote the letter from Lea Hurst, her family's country retreat in Derbyshire, in August 1877, when she was said to have been 57 years old.  Pictured: Auctioneer James Lewis with the letter

Florence wrote the letter from Lea Hurst, her family’s country retreat in Derbyshire, in August 1877, when she was said to have been 57 years old. Pictured: Auctioneer James Lewis with the letter

“Please excuse this question.”

The letter is one of three addressed to girlfriend and neighbor Miss Hurt and put up for sale.

They are sold by a descendant of the war sister.

They were found in a book in the library of Castern Hall, an 18th-century Staffordshire country house still owned by the Hurt family.

Auctioneer James Lewis was called to the property to appraise a number of items when led to the book in question.

Daniel Smith, from auctioneer Bamfords, said: ‘Writing letters was like emails back then, Florence Nightingale probably wrote thousands, but most we come across have to do with nursing or the Crimean War.

‘I’ve never encountered anything as whimsical as this. It shows a great deal of friendship between her and Miss Hurt.

“There were several Miss Hurts, they were casual mates living together and neighbors of Florence Nightingale’s family.

Someone like Florence Nightingale always draws interest, especially where we are because of her Derbyshire link, but there are Florence Nightingale collectors everywhere.

Nightingale asked her friend if she knew a “cat lover” who would like to take in her “mighty hangover” Mr. Bismarck.

Mr Lewis said: 'I just think Florence Nightingale was very much an animal lover and became a bit of a foster owner for cats and she went above and beyond to find them a new home'

Mr Lewis said: 'I just think Florence Nightingale was very much an animal lover and became a bit of a foster owner for cats and she went above and beyond to find them a new home'

Mr Lewis said: ‘I just think Florence Nightingale was very much an animal lover and became a bit of a foster owner for cats and she went above and beyond to find them a new home’

‘The other two letters in the sale are much more conventional: one about a charity and one about the Crimea.

“This one is a little different, you don’t really expect her to talk about her cat, which is nice.”

Mr. Lewis added, “I just think Florence Nightingale was very much an animal lover and became a bit of a foster owner for cats and she went above and beyond to find them a new home.”

Florence Nightingale: The Crimean War Nursing Pioneer

Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910) was an English social reformer who is considered the founder of modern nursing.

She rose to prominence as one of 38 volunteer nurses from Great Britain who went to medical posts in Turkey to help out during the Crimean War in the 1850s.

She became the face of the attempt after a newspaper called her ‘the lady with the lamp’ – for her efforts to treat wounded soldiers at night.

Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 - August 13, 1910) was an English social reformer who is considered the founder of modern nursing

Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 - August 13, 1910) was an English social reformer who is considered the founder of modern nursing

Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910) was an English social reformer who is considered the founder of modern nursing

When the nurses arrived, they found that many soldiers died not of their wounds, but of diseases such as typhus and cholera, which were widespread in army hospitals.

She fought to improve conditions with better sanitation, nutrition and more supplies, which brought the death rate down.

Nightingale improved the reputation of nursing and became an icon of Victorian culture.

She was also a prolific writer writing works including Notes on Nursing.

She died in 1910 at the age of 90.