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Mary Jane Seacole (née Grant) (1805-1881), Jamaican nurse, adventurer and writer

Sitter in 1 portrait
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Seacole owes her reputation to her nursing activities during the Crimean war. Rebuffed when she tried to join Florence Nightingale's nursing sisters, she travelled independently to Balaklava where she helped open the British Hotel halfway between the harbour and British Headquarters. It served as an officers' club, a canteen for troops and a base for her nursing. She remained in the Crimea until July 1856, returning to England after financial difficulties. She was a familiar figure to British newspaper readers through the reports of William Howard Russell. Since the 1970s, the development of a Black and Asian historiography has given her a central place in black British history.

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