Mary Seacole was born in Kingston in 1805 to a Scottish father and free Jamaican mother. She learnt West African herbal medicine from her mother who ran a boarding house. She travelled extensively honing her medical knowledge and she set up a number of businesses. When the Crimean War broke out she applied for nursing work but was denied multiple times. She decided to travel to Crimea herself and opened a very successful hotel providing food and respite to soldiers. She returned to England in poor health and deep in debt. However her supporters organised fundraising events in her honour which revived her fortunes and she published her memoirs in 1857. She died in 1881.