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Lead book review

The fuss over Mary Seacole’s statue has obscured the real person

Mary Seacole may not have qualified as a nurse in the modern sense, but British troops benefited greatly from her healing skills, says Andrew Lycett

5 March 2022

9:00 AM

5 March 2022

9:00 AM

In Search of Mary Seacole: The Making of a Cultural Icon Helen Rappaport

Simon & Schuster, pp.405, 20

Who would have thought that a statue of a West Indian-born nurse in south London has a role in today’s culture wars? Unveiled in 2016, it stands three metres tall outside the great teaching hospital, St Thomas’, and depicts Mary Seacole, an extraordinary Creole woman who was loved and renowned for giving succour to British troops, first in her native Jamaica and then in Crimea during the bloody and prolonged war with Russia of 1853-6.

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