Famed for her work among the sick and wounded of the Crimean War, Mary Seacole possessed a unique perspective: that of a Victorian-era black woman at a battlefield's front line. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1805, she began her career as a healer by helping her mother nurse British officers at nearby military camps. In the 1850s, her compassion aroused by agonizing reports from Crimea, she headed for England to offer her services.
Seacole was denied entry to Florence Nightingale's "angel band" of military nurses, possibly on account of her race. Undaunted, she traveled independently to Crimea to set up accommodations near Balaclava that provided treatment and domestic comforts to convalescing soldiers. Seacole's years of service left her bankrupt and impoverished, but her memoirs, published to popular and critical acclaim in 1857, express no regrets. Humorous and tragic by turns, this autobiography recaptures the voice of a fearless adventurer and humanitarian.