UK Newspaper Ranks Jamaican Mary Seacole Autobiography in Best 100 Nonfiction Books

The United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper has ranked the autobiography of Jamaican Mary Seacole as Number 62 on its list of the top 100 nonfiction books in history. The autobiography, entitled “The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands,” was published in 1857 Seacole is sometimes known as “the black Florence Nightingale” for her work as a nurse in the Crimean War. Seacole was born Mary Jane Grant in Jamaica in 1805 during slavery and died in England in 1881, finding her final resting place at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic cemetery in London. During her life, she was revered and renowned throughout the British Empire for nursing the sick and wounded troops during the war. Her father was James Grant, a lieutenant in the British Army from Scotland, and her mother was a free Jamaican woman. Seacole often referred to herself as a “Creole” of mixed race. Her autobiography skips over the first 40 years of her life and only hits her stride with her move to Cruces in Panama. She then focuses on her career in the Crimea., she uses several chapters to get into her stride as a mature woman, before focusing on her career in the Crimea, In addition to working as a nurse, she catered to the people who came to watch the battles through which she became equally famous for her cooking and baking skills. “If I had nothing else to be proud of, I think my rice puddings, made without milk, upon the high road to Sebastopol, would have gained me a reputation.” Seacole’s autobiography was a bestseller in its day and was dedicated to Major General Lord Rokeby, commander of the 1st Division in Crimea.