Friday, 1 August 2014

Lessons in lies: How the BBC, school text books and even exam boards have twisted history to smear Florence Nightingale and make a saint of this woman

Daily Mail
  • Commemorative statue of Mary Seacole was unveiled in London last month
  • Seacole has been treated with huge reverence - but is surrounded by myth
  • Presented as medical pioneer - though she was never even a nurse
  • Even school exams award marks for repeating falsehoods about Seacole
  • Florence Nightingale - an actual pioneer - is often denigrated in comparison 
Indeed, Seacole’s supporters, including the BBC, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), reputable publishers and school exam boards, seem determined to elevate this Victorian businesswoman and adventurer almost to the status of a modern-day saint. But the truth is that she was never a nurse.
Although school history books now treat her as an equal to Florence Nightingale, Seacole never nursed in a hospital, did not start a nursing school, never wrote books or articles on nursing. Indeed, she never did anything to rival Nightingale’s truly pioneering work to improve healthcare.
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. As an academic who has edited Nightingale’s writings, I have been left baffled, frustrated and wearied by the refusal of the pro-Seacole lobby to recognise historical facts." .......
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. It was hardly fare for rank and file soldiers. Rather than ministering to the sick and wounded, Seacole’s main work by day was food preparation."

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