Edith Cavell

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Edith Louisa Cavell (4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915) was a British nurse, humanitarian and spy. She is celebrated for helping some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium during World War I, for which she was arrested. She was court-martialled and found guilty of treason. Sentenced to death, she was shot by firing squad. She received worldwide sympathetic press coverage.

She is well-known for her statement that "patriotism is not enough." Her strong Anglican beliefs propelled her to help all those who needed it, both German and Allied soldiers. She was quoted as saying, "I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved".[1] Cavell was also an influential pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium.


Early life and career

Edith Cavell (pronounced /ˈkævəl/; rhymes with 'gravel') was born in Swardeston, a village near Norwich, where her father, the Reverend Frederick Cavell, was priest for 45 years.[2] After a period as a governess, including for a family in Brussels 1900 -1905, she trained as a nurse at the London Hospital under Matron Eva Luckes. In 1907, Cavell was recruited by Dr. Antoine Depage to be matron of a newly established nursing school by the name of L'École Belge d’Infirmières Diplômées on the Rue de la Culture in Brussels.[1] By 1910, "Miss Cavell 'felt that the profession of nursing had gained sufficient foothold in Belgium to warrant the publishing of a professional journal,' and therefore launched the nursing journal, L'infirmière.[1] A year later, she was a training nurse for three hospitals, 24 schools, and 13 kindergartens in Belgium.[3]

When World War I broke out, she was visiting her widowed mother in Norfolk in the East of England. She returned to Brussels where her clinic and nursing school were taken over by the Red Cross.[4]

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