Black History Month: Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole was a businesswoman and a doctor, and arguably the first black woman to make a clear and acknowledged mark on British public life.

Having learned about medicine from her mother in Jamaica, Seacole travelled widely, including to Panama where she treated patients during a cholera outbreak. While in London, she found out that the nursing system on the front lines of the Crimean War had collapsed. She applied to go out to treat soliders, but was repeatedly refused. She went out on her own funds and set up a hotel from which she treated many wounded. The Crimean War was the first to have war correspondents, who publicly acknowledged her medical prowess.

In 1857 Seacole published her autobiography, The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole.

Having faced great racism in life, Seacole still faces it in death, with racist furore stirred up by her statue being placed in front of St Thoma’s hospiral, and Michael Gove trying very hard to remove her from the National Curriculum. He failed.

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