Mary Seacole: The Making of the Myth

TitleMary Seacole: The Making of the Myth
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsMcDonald, Lynn
Number of Pages248
PublisherIguana Books
CityToronto, Ontario, Canada

This book on  Mary Seacole (1805-1881), a "Creole" woman from Jamaica, who worked  as a sutler, "doctores" and nurse during the Crimean War (1853-1856), challenges the popular misconceptions that surround her current iconic status as a  black “pioneer nurse” and battlefield heroine, intended, by some, to replace Florence Nightingale in those roles. Lynn McDonald, one of the leading scholars on Nightingale, tried to disentangle reality from the myths, both those that exaggerate Seacole’s work and ignore or denigrate Nightingale’s. Drawing on the considerable primary sources available on both women, including letters and journal notes by officers, medical doctors and other observers during the Crimean War, as well as Seacole’s own memoir, McDonald debunks claims that Seacole was the real heroine of the Crimean War and a pioneer of healthcare. Her book supports the recognition of Seacole for her life and work, but not as the decorated battlefield heroine as she is typically portrayed today.

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