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A far cry from the nineteenth century slave narrative tradition this book written in 1857 is a special kind of success story With delightful urbanity and wit Mary Seacole a free born Jamaican Creole recounts her childhood as a daughter of a Scottish army officer and a free black boarding house keeper her years as a storekeeper in a Central American frontier town and her role as a battlefield 'doctress' to British troops in the Crimean War She emerges as an independent and respected maternal figure the acme of female achievement in Victorian culture and a symbol of 'home' to British soldiers alienated by war


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    SOMEONE GET LIN MANUEL MIRANDA ON THE LINE BECAUSE I'VE DISCOVERED AN AMAZING HISTORICAL FIGURE IN NEED OF A MUSICAL Excuse me for yelling but truly guys this incredible woman doesn't deserve to be forgotten like this Because while Florence Nightingale is nowadays known as the classic example of a hard working nurse Mary Seacole as a POC deserves to get the same fame 'Mother' Mary Seacole 1805 1881 did what very little women in her time and age ever could make a name for herself She explored the field of medication by using both western and eastern techniques she broaded the role of nursing by adding hygiene and after care as a vital part of the treatment and was able to publish an auto biography in England in 1857 All of that is incredible enough but even since she was a mixed race woman who worked and lived in a world where racism was the norm The color of her skin got her kicked off boats and brought people to the streets when she was in Greece but Mary didn't care about that She had patients to cure A quick introduction to Mary's life can be found here on Youtube but if you rather read here's a quick summary Mary Seacole the daughter of an Creole mother and a Scottish general was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1805 From a young age she wanted to explore the world especially the land of her father and find a place where she could use her talents as a nurse But not only that Mary was also a great business woman While she travelled all across Jamaica and Panama she opened up hotels where she sold good food alongside medical care Still her work during the Crimean War 1853 1856 got her the most fame When she read in the papers that the English soldiers were dying en masse because of cholera and diarrhea she packed up her stuff and took a boat to the Crimea There Mary set up a hotel like the ones in Jamaica and Panama and became known because she sold English wares and because of her professional medical treatments This biography combined with the introduction written by Corry Staring Derks a Dutch nurse and historian herself told me all I wanted to know about mother Seacole and Staring Derks really has done her research and doesn't only spend chapters explaining the life of Mary Seacole herself but also on the history of Jamaica as an English colony and on the status of the medical field of 1800 Because while Eastern as the Western doctors had knowledge of medications they both had little ideas on the best way to treat a patient The first woman one who did have ideas was the famous Florence Nightingale which whom I was unfamiliar with until this book Staring Derks brings her up as a 'colleague' or 'rival' of Mary Seacole since both women had very opposite ideas on the subject of patient treatment Nightingale was focused on running a hospital and training nurses while Seacole thought that tending to a patients with love and medicine was the most important job of a nurse Staring Derks shows her qualities as a critical historian by not choosing a side but by paying attention to Florence's as Mary's strenghts and flaws I read this biography in Dutch but since the edition by Corry Staring Derks published in 2007 isn't available on Goodreads I choose the edition closest in publication dateMary's biography follows after the introduction and although her story reads easily and is never dull it doesn't tell us much about the woman herself Mary focuses on telling the English people about her work as a nurse in Jamaica Panama and the Crimea and keeps reminding people of her English heritage You can also read this in her writing style which is dignified and filled with proper complicated wordsMary also rarely mentions the subject of racism while in truth the color of her skin often worked against her however Staring Derks is smart to point out that this is likely done to appease Mary's public Although she saved a lot of English soldiers Mary was a poor mixed race woman opposed to white upper class Florence Nightingale It's sad but easy to understand who remained famous after their death So in conclusion this biography was a great introduction to a very remarkable woman I was very impressed by both Corry Staring Derks research and Mary Seacole's own story and the combination of the two gives this book 5 stars As a last hommage to Mary and due to the fact that I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack a lot this summer I'll leave you with this re write and the recommendation to discover this woman as well Thomas DayHow does a bastard orphan daughter of a nurse and a Scotsman born in a English colony in the Caribbean by providencein foulness and divergent Grow up to be a doctress and a merchant?Alexis SoyerThe mighty mother from a Creole motherGot famous by working harder than any otherBy being successful than her brother By nurturing among the pother By eighteen she brought her Jamaican wares to LondonFor the English to discoverFlorence NightingaleAnd every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted Away across the waves she struggled and kept her hopes upInside she was longing for a place to belong and thrive The sister was ready to travel far to keep her sons aliveEdwin SeacoleThen Cholera came and devastation spreadA woman saw her people and family die in their bedBut she dried her tears and fought the foul beast She tended to the sick by a combo of West and EastWilliam RussellWell the word got around they said “This woman is a saint man”Black and white patients got cured under her treatment planHer brave adventures in the Crimea gave her true fame butsadly the world forgot her name so what’s your nameMadam?Mary SeacoleI am Mary SeacoleMy name is Mary SeacoleAnd there’re a million men I've not tended toBut just you wait just you wait