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Though she is now described as a black Jamaican, she was three-quarters white, the daughter of a Scottish soldier and a mixed-race Jamaican woman who ran Blundell Hall, one of the more salubrious hotels in the Caribbean island’s capital, Kingston.As for the herbal ‘remedies’ she used for cholera, for instance, she described in her memoirs how she added lead acetate and mercury chloride.They have an elder brother, Trent, and a younger sister, actress Elizabeth, as well as a half-sister, Courtney Taylor, and a half-brother, Jake.

Yet while her modern cheerleaders champion Seacole as ‘the real angel of the Crimean War’, and the RCN parades her as a role model, Florence Nightingale, who founded the nursing profession, is being increasingly undervalued and even denigrated.One of the more egregious is that her ‘British Hotel’ is promoted into a fully fledged hospital, the ‘British Hospital’, by the exam board.A children’s exercise book published by Cambridge University Press states that Seacole ‘worked as a nurse and saved many lives’.The less heroic reality is that she went to Crimea in the spring of 1855 to set up a provisions store that sold luxury items (such as tinned lobster) to officers, and a restaurant and bar where they could dine and drink champagne.To be fair to her, it is true that on three occasions during the nearly year-long siege of Sevastapol, she did visit the battlefield, where she sewed the wounds of injured men - and sold ham sandwiches and bottles of wine to spectators.

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