Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole defeated all the odds to tend to wounded soldiers on both sides during the Crimean War; not only was she female but also of mixed race and, in the divisive days of slaves and free blacks, funded her own journey to the Crimea after being turned down by Florence Nightingale.
Having distinguished herself in the campaign for her medicinal skills and bravery, Seacole was honoured alongside Nightingale but was then forgotten for almost a century.
However, Trinidad-born Ron Ramdin has brought her back to life in his book Mary Seacole, now an e-book, brought to you by HopeRoad Publishing and in 2004 Mary was voted the Greatest Black Briton.
Such is the renewed popularity of Seacole that, following a vote taken by Lambeth’s planning application committee to allow a floodlit statue in the St Thomas’ Hospital garden, she will be the first black woman to have a named memorial in the United Kingdom.
As Ramdin himself says in the book: “Given that Victorian Britain was securely founded upon a combination of race, class and colour, it was incredible that Mary got as far as she did.”
Ramdin tells it as it is. He rightly reports she was a plain-speaking woman who lived an adventurous life. . . . This account contains important lessons for those of us who care, and demonstrates why she was voted the greatest black Briton in 2004. (Sarah Mullaly Church Times)