Introducing the book choice for A Town Explores A Book 2023

The book choice for #ATownExploresABook23 is Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, a travel writing book by nineteenth-century adventurer Mary Seacole, a woman of the world.

Photograph of Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole is many things to many people and a good place to start is to explore her as a woman fundamentally informed by an inspirational parent. Her mother ran a lodging house in Kingston, Jamaica. Variously termed Creole and Caribbean, Mary’s mother was a black woman who was a healer-doctor and shared and taught Mary many of her skills utilising traditional Jamaican medicines. 

“[The Creoles] seek out the simple remedies which are available for the terrible diseases by which foreigners are attacked, and which are found growing under the same circumstances which produce the ills they minister to. So true is it that beside the nettle ever grows the cure for its sting”

Mary was born ‘free’ unlike many of her contemporaries at the time. Her father, James Grant, was a white Scottish army officer stationed in Jamaica – which at the time was a British colony.

Mary forged a career that embraced the roles of nurse, doctor, carer and business woman.  She is best known for travelling to The Crimea in the 1850s and establishing a store supplying food, home comforts, and medicines to soldiers during The Crimean War, known popularly as “Mother Seacole’s” or “Mrs Seacole’s”. Her lifetime travels pervade her book and this festival marks the 200th anniversary of her first solo journey to London in her late teens, an inspiration to young people today.

As I grew into womanhood, I began to indulge that longing to travel which will never leave me while I have health and vigour”
“I was never weary of tracing upon an old map the route to England; and never followed with my gaze the stately ships homeward bound without longing to be in them”

Festival projects will also mark the 75th anniversary of the NHS and the docking of HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in 1948 exploring how heritage text Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands is relevant to readers today.

A unique annual reader-led festival of creative responses to a heritage book produced by ExploreTheArch theatre company.