Feisty, fearless and funny, Mary Seacole was such a celebrity in Victorian England that, in July 1857, she drew a paying public of no less than 80,000 people to concerts staged in her honour. The charismatic 'doctress' from Jamaica -- a staunch British patriot and a fiercely proud Creole -- had won the hearts of the nation for her work treating the sick and dying, sometimes under fire, in the Crimean War of 1854-6.
What makes her achievements all the more remarkable is that she had been rejected by the British authorities and Florence Nightingale's recruitment team when she first volunteered her services - because of the colour of her skin. Undaunted, she decided to go it alone.
Though forgotten for much of the Twentieth Century, in 2005, the bicentenary of her birth, Mary Seacole was voted the greatest black Briton in history in a national BBC television poll.
50' Drama-documentary, 2005 Starring Angela Bruce Written and directed by Sonali Fernando