Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Mary Jane Seacole (née Grant) (1805-1881), Nurse, adventurer and writer
Forgotten for many decades, the story of her life was rediscovered in the 1980s and she became a nursing role model alongside Florence Nightingale. In 2004 she was popularly voted the ‘Greatest Black Briton’.
I have seen her go down under fire with her little store of creature comforts for our wounded men, and a more tender or skilful hand about a wound or broken limb could not be found among our best surgeons. I saw her at the assaults on Redan, at the Battle of Tchernaya, at the fall of Sebastopol, laden … with wine, bandages and food for the wounded or the prisoners. 
According to illustrator William Simpson, Seacole was
a well-known character in the Crimea, all the soldiers and sailors knew her. She had a taste for nursing and doctoring, but she added to this a business as a sutler. She told me one day that she had Scotch blood in her veins. I must say that she did not look like it, but the old lady spoke proudly of this point in her genealogy. She was a nice, good creature, and everyone liked her. At Lord Raglan’s funeral, and at such ceremonies as the investiture of the Bath, she turned out with the brightest of ribbons in her bonnet. 
Dr Jan Marsh
Footnotesback to top
Referencesback to topAnionwu 2005
Anionwu, E., ed., A Short History of Mary Seacole: A Resource for Nurses and Students, London, 2005.
Cooper, T., ed., National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, London, 2014.
Funnell and Marsh 2011
Funnell, P., and J. Marsh, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, London, 2011.
Grey, Mrs W., Journal of a Visit to Egypt, Constantinople, the Crimea, Greece, &c. in the suite of the Prince and Princess of Wales, London, 1869.
I-Spy National Portrait Gallery, Watford, 2010.
James, T.B., ‘Mary Seacole’s Lost Letter’, BBC History Magazine, October 2010, pp.53–5.
Marsh, J., ed., Black Victorians: Black People in British Art 1800–1900, Aldershot, 2005.
Modest & Barringer, forthcoming
Modest, W., and T. Barringer, eds, Victorian Jamaica, Durham, NC, forthcoming.
Palmer, A., ‘Seacole, Mary Jane (1805–1881)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., May 2006.
Rappaport, H., No Place for Ladies: The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War, London, 2007.
Robinson, J., Mary Seacole: The Charismatic Black Nurse Who Became a Heroine of the Crimea, London, 2005.
Seacole., M., The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, London, 1857.
Seacole, M., The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, ed. Z. Alexander and A. Dewjee, Bristol,  1984.
Seacole, M., The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, ed. S. Salih, London,  2005.
Simpson, W., The Autobiography of William Simpson R.I. (Crimean Simpson), London, 1903.
Staring-Derks et al. 2015
Staring-Derks, C., J. Staring and E.N. Anionwu, ‘Mary Seacole: Global Nurse Extraordinaire’, Journal of Advanced Nursing, vol.71, no.3, 2015, pp.514–25.