Mary Seacole by Albert Challen c.1869


The Lost Portrait & Discovery

Helen and Mary Seacole Photograph by Mary Zacarolli

Since 2001 one of my specialisms has been the life of Mary Seacole.

In the winter of 2003 I had the great good fortune to discover a lost portrait of this pioneering Jamaican nurse who went to the Crimean War, and was even more fortunate to be able to purchase it.

The portrait was unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery on 10 January 2005 and on 13 January 2009

I sold it to the gallery. 

I am sorry that Mary Seacole will never return to my sitting room wall but she now belongs to the nation, and that is only right and fitting. I feel happy and privileged that she came into my life.

My interest in her life and works continues and  I have much new information that I hope will one day go into a biography.

In the meantime, for information about my original discovery of the portrait see: and  

For my Woman’s Hour interview with Jeni Murray you can listen again at:

To see Helen talking about Mary Seacole in the 2005 Channel 4 Documentary

'The Real Angel of the Crimea', go to:

Part 1:   Part 2:  

Part 3:   Part 4:

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