Today marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Shakespeare provides us with the earliest attestation of the word nurse as denoting one who provides health care to the sick, which appears in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors (ca. 1590s): “I will attend my husband, be his nurse, Diet his sicknesse, for it is my Office” (V.i.99).
The wife as nurse (and the advantage of marriage as engaging a live-in nurse) is also apparent in the Duchess of Newcastle’s Matrimonial Trouble (1662), which contends, “That he might do [i.e., marry], if it were for no other reason, but for a Nurse to tend him, if he should chance to be sick.”
To mark this Shakespeare anniversary, the Wellcome Library’s blog comments on “Shakespeare’s Medical World”: http://blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2016/04/shakespeares-medical-world/