Mary Seacole & Black Victorian History

remarkable women in extraordinary circumstances

“Helen not only writes evocatively but the joy of her books is in the detail.”

OXFORD TIMES

Mary Seacole & Black Victorian History

It has always been my ambition to write a biography of Mary Seacole but circumstances have not yet made that possible. I was able to devote a whole chapter to her in my book  No Place For Ladies: The Untold Story of Women in the Crimean War, based on my original research,  but I have a wealth of additional material on Mary’s life. I plan to share some of this previously unpublished material here as articles in the forthcoming months.

One of  these, featured below,  tells the story of the extraordinary journey I went on, in search of Mary Seacole – a journey that brought me to her lost portrait that now hangs in London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Searching for material in order to fill the many gaps in Mary’s story I have, along the way, often found myself diverted into the lives of other neglected and forgotten black figures from 19th-century history. One such story, that of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, is also featured below.

Mary Seacole, Creole Doctress, Nurse and Healer

In Crimea during 1854–5 Mary Seacole demonstrated that her home-grown Jamaican practice of hygiene, healthy food, natural remedies and kindness – had a lot more to offer than traditional medicine, making her nursing practice a far more modern, holistic one that people might have imagined.

Sarah Forbes Bonetta: the Slave Girl Gifted to Queen Victoria

In its Christmas Special for December 2017 the ITV series Victoria featured the story of Sarah Forbes Bonetta, an African slave girl who was brought to the court of Queen Victoria. She has frequently been described as the Queen’s goddaughter’ but this is not in fact true…

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