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June 2019



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Before Call the Midwife

The popularity of Call the Midwife is astonishing but it’s only the most recent in a long line of TV medical dramas. Remember Emergency Ward 10? Dr Kildare? (You have to be old.) Most series involve hospitals and I don’t watch any of them. I have, however, read quite a lot of books about nursing. Most are romances in which Nurse marries Doctor and don’t interest me much. What I have read is a large number of nursing career books aimed at girls. Now, they’re a fascinating glimpse into how much nursing has changed over the years.

All this is merely to flag up Lucilla Andrews, doyenne of the hospital romance. I’ve never read any of her books but here’s good news for those who like her stories and have searched for them in vain: a few are now available for the Kindle, quite cheaply.

The UK Harrap editions of the American Sue Barton books all looked like this. They’re rather good and I wish I’d kept them.

Also American and less realistic were the Cherry Ames books. Her career was certainly varied! Here’s a Cherry Ames annual from 1958. I bought a pile of these and later sold them to American collectors, because annuals are British thing.

Here’s an example of just one of her jobs. I wrote briefly about one I read here.

I have kept the Susan of St Bride’s books because I loved them as a child. The Jean books stay because I tend to keep Seagull books. There are two more of these, which I haven’t got.

This picture illustrates a nursing story by Elizabeth Kellier, printed in Woman’s Weekly, January 1962. The glamour!

Any favourite nursing stories?


Loved the pictures. Now that you mention it, I do remember thinking the Sue Barton books were comparatively well written. I've got a couple of them, a lot of Cherry Ames books and a few Jean books, and tend to think of nursing books for girls as a subset of the career stories. I haven't much gone for contemporaneos nurse/doctor romances. The changes in healthcare are certainly striking.
I do regret getting rid of so many of these books.

I suppose people are still writing hospital romances? It must be harder now that people watch Casualty and Holby City and see the nitty gritty of hospital life (I assume, I don't watch them).

with thanks to Google

Re: with thanks to Google

Thank you! I see it's doctor/doctor these days.
Raises hand - I'm old and have memories of the dashing Dr Kildare and Dr Dawson :) It all seems so dated now. I always wanted to be a nurse and had a job in a kidney unit (such old fashioned equipment back then) before embarking on nurse training at little Surbiton hospital near Kingston-Upon-Thames which I loved. Having my elder son put paid to that career but I have fond memories and there was a short romance with a rugby player whom I nursed after badly breaking his leg :)

The books have some wonderful covers!

Dr Kildare was lovely (to a twelve-year-old)!

Wow, I didn't know you'd done nursing training. Love the pic :-)