The Times called her a heroine, Florence Nightingale called her a brothel-keeping quack, and Queen Victoria's nephew called her, simply, 'Mammy' - Mary Seacole was one of the most eccentric and charismatic women of her era. Born at her mother's hotel in Jamaica in 1805, she became an independent 'doctress' combining the herbal remedies of her African ancestry with sound surgical techniques. On the outbreak of the Crimean War she arrived in London desperate to join Florence Nightingale at the Front, but the authorities refused to see her. Being black, nearly 50, rather stout, and gloriously loud in every way, she was obviously unsuitable. Undaunted, Mary travelled to Balaklava under her own steam to build the 'British Hotel', just behind the lines. It was an outrageous venture, and a huge success - she became known and loved by everyone from the rank and file to the royal family. For more than a century after her death this remarkable woman was all but forgotten. This, the first full-length biography of a Victorian celebrity recently voted the greatest black Briton in history, brings Mary Seacole centre stage at last.
Jane was born in Edinburgh and brought up in North Yorkshire. After reading English at Somerville College, Oxford, she became an antiquarian book dealer, and later a writer. Her eight books to date have been critically acclaimed, and have confirmed her as one of our most engaging and original social historians.
Jane lives near Oxford with her husband and - during university holidays - her two sons. She writes full time, apart from when she's happily travelling to give talks or broadcasts about her books, or working one day a week at Somerville College as an assistant archivist.
Learn more about her books, work in progress, and future speaking engagements on www.jane-robinson.com, where you can also send her a message.