Thursday, 23 August 2012

I would like to welcome, a very special guest on my blog, author Donna Douglas

Hello, and thanks for inviting me to be a guest on your site. I’m Donna Douglas, author of The Nightingale Girls, the first in a series of stories set in an East End Hospital in the 1930s.

It’s not often a publisher gives you an idea for a novel, but that’s what happened with The Nightingale Girls. It was my editor who suggested that a hospital might make an interesting background for a series of stories. I had to admit, it was a tempting idea. A hospital is a mini kingdom of consultants and nurses, porters and patients, each with their own story to tell. It’s also a place where you’ll find love, laughter, heartache, dramas, and human life at its most raw. All fantastic material for a writer!

So I started doing some research. And I discovered that a nurse’s lot in those days was harsh, to say the least. They trained for three years, during which time they lived in the nurses’ home under the watchful eye of the Home Sister. They were not allowed visitors, and had to be in bed for lights out at ten (although they devised ingenious ways to get around this particular rule!). They would be on duty for 14 hours at a time, during which they weren’t even allowed to sit down, except for three short breaks (and even these were at the ward sister’s discretion). There was a strict hierarchy among the junior and senior staff, to the point where students were not even allowed to pass a senior in the corridor. Nurses were also referred to by their surnames, and often went through their whole careers not knowing each other’s Christian names!

I started to think about the kind of girls who might sign up for such a life. I came up with tough East End girl Dora, who becomes a nurse to try to better herself and escape the clutches of her evil stepfather. At the other end of the social scale, I had reluctant debutante Millie, the poor little rich girl with everything except her independence. Finally, I had Helen, the timid one. Helen has never broken a rule or disobeyed an order in her life – until she falls in love with a patient on her ward. Suddenly she has to choose between her head and her heart.

Nursing may sound a bit grim, but in spite of the harsh regime, all the nurses I met spoke fondly of their time on the wards, the fun they’d had and the lifelong friends they’d made. That’s certainly true of my three characters, who form an unlikely bond that helps see them through the bad times they all face.

I really hope you enjoy the book. If you want to find out more about me and my writing, please visit my website – – or my blog –

Thanks for listening, and thanks to Nikki for allowing me to be part of your amazing blog!

To buy The Nightingale Girls from, click here

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