The story of women's role in medicine in 19th-century Britain has been dominated by two iconic figures Sophia Jex-Blake (1840 - 1912) and Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910)
They died within a couple of years of one another, but Florence Nightingale was the elder by twenty years, and became an established national heroine when she returned from the Crimean war in 1856. In 1860 a school for nurses was set up under her name at St Thomas' Hospital. This happened nine years before Jex-Blake led her own small group of women students to matriculate in medicine at the University of Edinburgh. The interval of twenty years between their birthdates, has some importance in their joint story. By the time that Jex-Blake was immersed in her publicity campaign and legal struggles, Florence Nightingale was already a legend.