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"A gallant heart to the empire." Autoethnography and Imperial identity in Mary Seacole's Wonderful Adventures.


It seems fitting that the bi-centenary year of Mary Seacole's birth has been marked by a spate of discoveries and publications about the author of Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands (1857). In January 2005 a "lost" portrait of Seacole, painted in 1879 by an obscure London artist named Albert Challen, was placed on view in the National Portrait Gallery. Coincidentally, Jane Robinson's rather clumsily-titled biography, Mary Seacole: The Charismatic Black Nurse Who Became a Heroine of the Crimea, was published only weeks later, and in the same month the Home Office named one of its new buildings after Mary Seacole. (1) To round off these events, a Channel 4 documentary screened in April 2005 revealed the identity of Seacole's husband Horace (hitherto unknown), and Wonderful Adventures was published as a Penguin Classic at the beginning of that year. (2) Assuredly, Seacole is enjoying a second heyday (albeit a posthumous one), having already taken her place amidst a burgeoning group of "Great Black Britons" whose achievements are receiving belated recognition. (3) This is not to imply that Seacole has been rescued from obscurity: between her death in 1881 and Alexander and Dewjee's edition of Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands almost a century later, a steady trickle of articles and publications concerning Seacole appeared both in Britain and Jamaica. Moreover, since 1984, Seacole has received increasing academic attention, and she has long been installed as a figurehead for a number of different groups including Jamaicans, black British people and nurses.

Still, it does seem to be the case that during the last decade or two, "Seacole" has become something of a brand name for Caribbean nurses, so-called "ethnic minorities" in Britain, and Jamaicans both patriate and expatriate. There are already numerous buildings called "Mary Seacole" in Britain and Jamaica, and a Mary Seacole Street almost came into existence in London during the 1990s. (4) It is not only Seacole's name that is being invoked; people are also reading her text, or sections of it, since it is widely available in its entirety (Wonderful Adventures has been issued at least three times since Alexander and Dewjee's 1984 edition) and in excerpted form. Moreover, there is a growing canon of critical literature about Seacole and her autobiography, and well-known scholars such as Moira Ferguson and Simon Gikandi have tackled the thorny question of Seacole's national, cultural and racial identifications--a question on which I wish to focus here. Certainly, Seacole has been adopted by different groups both inside and outside the academy, and she has been made to stand for (not always complementary) national, racial and cultural causes. Is there something about Seacole's text that lends itself to these multiple interpretations? Why does "Seacole" mean so many different things to so many different people? Both in the country of her birth (Jamaica) and the country she adopted (Britain), Seacole is a national heroine, and yet sometimes it does seem as though the Seacole text (by which I mean Wonderful Adventures, as well as reconstructions of "Mary Seacole" by different generations of critics) is being pulled in quite different directions. Can Seacole be "black," "British," and "Jamaican" at the same time? If these ontological vectors are in fact compatible, then is it important for contemporary readers and critics to take into account how Seacole constructed herself; or how she was constructed by her nineteenth-century contemporaries?

In addressing these questions, I will compare recent critical accounts of the Seacole text to Seacole's self-representations, and representations of Seacole by nineteenth-century commentators. This multi-contextual approach will permit me to complicate celebrations of Seacole as straightforwardly "black," "British" or "Jamaican," while asking how current interpretations of Wonderful Adventures might or should be constrained by the fact that the text presents itself as an autobiography, not a fiction. In particular, I want to take issue with the widespread critical notion that in relocating from Jamaica to England, Seacole discarded a pre-existing "Jamaican" and/or "West Indian" national identity in order to reconstruct herself as a "British" subject. Of course, national identity has never been such a straightforward matter, and given the mid-nineteenth-century context of Seacole's narrative, it makes sense to draw attention to this author's imperial and military affiliations--aspects of Seacole's self-perceived identity on which few critics have chosen to dwell. To emphasize the intersecting, unstable elements of Seacole's imperial identity may not square with current celebrations of her as a "heroine," and yet I believe that Wonderful Adventures itself, with its knowing deployment of racial stereotypes, its unashamed (if opportunistic) avowals of British national pride and its frequent rhetorical, sentimental effusions over Seacole's soldier "sons," pushes us towards just such a contextual reading. Wonderful Adventures constitutes a striking example of what Mary Louise Pratt has called "'autoethnography' or 'autoethnographic expression,'" a form in which colonized subjects represent themselves in ways that engage with the colonizer's own terms, involving "partial collaboration with and appropriation of the idioms of the conqueror." Autoethnographic texts are constructed in response to or in dialogue with metropolitan representations of "the other," and they are usually addressed to metropolitan readers as well as literate sectors of the writer's own social group--sectors which are likely to respond to such texts in differing ways, according to Pratt. (5) It seems clear, then, that autoethnographic texts do not necessarily participate in an anti-colonial counter-discourse, although there may be ways in which they wittingly or unwittingly destabilize imperialist constructions of "otherness." Further, as Pratt warns, when autoethnographic texts are read as "authentic" self-expression or "inauthentic" assimilation, "their transcultural character is obliterated and their dialogic engagement with western modes of representation lost." (6)

Reading Wonderful Adventures as a transcultural autoethnography in conjunction with the responses of Seacole's nineteenth-century critics to both author and text will yield broader insights into the construction and representation of "mixed race" women, both now and in Seacole's era. My analysis of Wonderful Adventures will accordingly draw on the growing cluster of paratexts that has surrounded Seacole's autobiography since the time of its publication. In particular, I wish to dwell on how Jamaican and British newspaper articles featuring Seacole exemplify Benedict Anderson's idea of national identity as an imagined, textual community that is linguistically, rather than consanguineously, constructed. It is my hope that such a discussion will contribute to a more wide-ranging investigation into the naming, representation and construction of the "mixed race" female subject in imperial contexts.


Many recent commentators have characterized Seacole as a Jamaican woman "of mixed ancestry" who, most disappointingly, leaves Jamaica early in a narrative that is regarded as an extended account of Seacole's self-transformation from "Jamaican" citizen to loyal "British" subject, or "the lackey of male privilege and empire" as one critic rather hotly puts it. (7) There seems to be a consensus that Seacole does not do justice to Jamaica, the island she longs to quit (and does in fact leave on the ninth page of Wonderful Adventures); nor are Seacole's detractors impressed by the way she devalues "Jamaican identity," divesting herself of it in order to reconstruct herself in the British ontological mould that these critics claim is the object of her desire. (8) Accounts such as these routinely ascribe "core identities" to Seacole--as black woman, Jamaican woman, Caribbean woman--along with a barely-disguised sense of disappointment that Seacole fails to live up to present-day ethnic and racial expectations. Summarizing such accounts, Lizbeth Paravisini-Gebert acknowledges that "[Seacole,] as the result of the fame she successfully claimed ... has become herself a "site" into which and through which others can map themselves." (9) Paravisini-Gebert's point is clear enough: Seacole, no less than her contemporary Florence Nightingale, is "a symbolic site of identity," a "signifying site of ... importance" which continues to be retrospectively constructed by people from the various groups for which Seacole may be made to stand. (10) In that case, Seacole is less a "real person" who authored a memoir in the mid-nineteenth century, than a signifier and a convenient metonym for a range of values and ideals: she is the indomitable Jamaican healer who recognized and resisted British racism; she is the Black British nurse whose fame equalled Florence Nightingale's in the mid nineteenth century; she is one of the inaugural writers in a burgeoning African-American literary canon. (11) Of course, there has to be a cut-off point to these apparently limitless interpretations of Wonderful Adventures, and Edward Said is surely right to insist that the "worldly" text places constraints on what can be done with it interpretively--especially since, in the case of autobiography, the critic is duty-bound to have recourse to what "facts" and documents do exist in order to ascertain how far the autobiographical text is fictionalized and fabricated. (12) Yet recent criticisms tend to overlook Seacole as "fact" (a woman who actually lived and worked in the nineteenth century) to treat her as fiction, construct or "signifying site," a mode of reading that has predominated since Alexander and Dewjee's landmark edition of Wonderful Adventures in 1984.

Seacole's modern critics are extraordinarily consistent in their racialized reconstructions of both author and work, but racially-determined interpretations of Wonderful Adventures do not tend to dwell on the ways in which the text is implicated in its myriad contexts, both contemporary and "historical." Although an obvious point, it bears underscoring that the terms currently deployed to describe Seacole--"black," "black British," "Jamaican" and so on--were not the terms she used to describe herself. In the first third of the narrative, Seacole identifies as "Creole" with relative frequency, evidently assuming that her reader will be familiar with the stereotypes the word evokes, and thereby engaging in a decisive form of autoethnographic self-representation. So, for example, she describes Creoles as lazy, hot-blooded, impulsive, affectionate, emotional and skilled in nursing--attributes which were routinely attributed to Creoles by contemporary commentators. (13) That Seacole invokes all these aspects of the Creole "type" in the course of her narrative demonstrates an awareness of contemporary popular perceptions, as well as her apparent willingness to confirm rather than challenge such notions. Indeed, Seacole's autoethnographic expressions tacitly acknowledge colonial representations of Jamaican Creoles. This engagement (deliberate or otherwise) with contemporary discourse continues in the Crimean sections of the text, where Seacole's sentimentalizations of the military contact zone occlude racism and colonial exploitation by representing the colonial connection (at least between Jamaican Creole and white) as a reciprocal one that is based on affective rather than ideological ties. Viewed in this light, Seacole's narrative constitutes an endorsement of an affective imperialism in which she plays--and is, moreover, perceived by nineteenth-century commentators to play--a nurturing and supportive role.

Militarization, as Mary Louise Pratt has observed, is one of the key instruments of empire, so that when Seacole finally arrives in the Crimean war zone, the "woman's work" in which she claims to be engaged is conflated with "empire's work" in quite obvious ways. (14) Lest her readers should object that the battlefront is not a fit place for a female, Seacole repeatedly underscores her proper femininity, especially when recounting the "unladylike" situations in which she finds herself. Similarly, her descriptions of the soldiers' responses to her ministrations seem designed to convince the reader that she stands for everything British, homely and "feminine." (15) In Seacole's account, the Crimea emerges as a temporary and somewhat utopian-albeit militarized--"contact zone" where peoples, classes and genders which are normally separated, encounter each other and establish power relations that are apparently characterized by racial, gendered and social equality. (16)

Seacole's descriptions of the benign, de-racialized battlefront may seem fairly one-sided to the modern reader, and her insistence on her proper British femininity, her silence regarding any encounters with racial hostility, seem so pointed that the reader might suspect that, at this point in the narrative, she is going out of her way to represent herself as "feminine" and middle class, rather than "coloured," "Creole" or "Jamaican." Strikingly, Seacole allows herself to entertain suspicions concerning British racism only once, when she has been uniformly rejected by the numerous war agents who inform her that her services as a nurse are not needed. On this oft-quoted occasion, just prior to Seacole's departure for the Crimea, she makes a strategic comparison between American and British racisms before rhetorically retreating from the latter once and for all. "Was it possible that American prejudices against colour had some root here?" she wonders: "Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?" (17) Seacole has used the adjective "dusky" to allude to her skin once before in the narrative, in the course of describing her first trip to London with a female companion, when "the London street-boys poke [d] fun" at their complexions. Here Seacole asserts that she is "only a little brown--a few shades duskier than the brunettes whom you all admire so much," whereas her companion is dark enough to attract the street-boys' "rude wit." (18) When she returns to London after the Crimean War has ended, all the racists seem to have left and the streets are peopled by "colour-blind" friends and acquaintances who greet her at every turn--an impression of London's denizens which, we shall see, seems remarkably anomalous given the temper of the times. (19)

In Seacole's account, services to the British Empire "trump" the duskier skin which formerly attracted such derision and hostility, and her dedication to the imperial cause does not end with the Crimean War. An article in The Times printed shortly after the publication of Wonderful Adventures reports an interview between Seacole and the Secretary at War in which the former declares her intention to set out for India immediately. "'Give me,' said the excellent old lady, 'my needles and thread, my probe and scissors, and I'm off."' (20) Presumably Seacole was planning to assist the British forces in the aftermath of the "Indian Mutiny," the very event which historians identify as one of the decisive markers in the downward-turn of attitudes towards race in 1850s England. (21) Seacole's imperial loyalties are clear enough, and The Times report is noteworthy in that it does not represent Seacole as "a woman of colour" with vaguely philanthropic leanings. She is an excellent old lady armed with a formidable sewing kit, an imperial crusader with a firm intention to assist in the war against "foreign," probably dusky, intransigents who have dared to rebel against the British colonial machine.

As an autobiographer, Seacole presents a limited account of how she was perceived by her contemporaries, so it is fortunate for modern readers that she was a public figure who received extensive press coverage during and after the Crimean War. There are numerous newspaper accounts of Seacole's activities in the war zone; nineteenth-century commentators describe Seacole in their letters and travelogues; and she was sculpted, painted and sketched both in her lifetime and out of it. While these verbal and pictorial representations sometimes draw attention to Seacole's "colour" and what might now be termed her "ethnicity," it is nonetheless striking that colour, ethnicity and race by no means constitute the sole determinants of Seacole's identity as it was represented in the mid-nineteenth century. Indeed, Seacole's gender and her "motherly" ministrations are just as likely to attract comment as anything else. Only one article, a despatch from The Morning Advertiser published in July 1855, displays an interest in Seacole primarily because of her race, but the report is anomalous in its proleptic deployment of the pseudo-scientific racial discourse that was to become so pervasive in ensuing decades. "We have at present a lady of colour in Balaklava, and occasionally in camp, who is quite original in her way, and an amusing specimen of the adaptability to circumstances of the darker specimens of the genus homo," writes the journalist. "Mrs. Seacole is, moreover, a highly intelligent woman, and a further proof that the race from which she sprang is one capable of high intellectual development." (22)

In contrast, other articles praise Seacole and her work without marvelling at her intelligence and the "adaptability" of homo sapiens. A Times report in December 1855 makes no mention of race in its account of the post-armistice Christmas festivities that were held at the battlefront, merely noting that Seacole is "the only representative of her fair sex," while a description of Seacole's post-war bankruptcy proceedings in the same newspaper only mentions in passing that Seacole is "a lady of colour." (23) The Illustrated London News identifies Seacole as "a creole, of Scotch extraction," and it also describes her as a "doctress" who was born in Jamaica (this article was a review of Wonderful Adventures, so it is likely that the reporter is echoing the descriptions Seacole gives at the beginning of her narrative). (24) The letters printed in The Times when Seacole's friends and allies were trying to raise money to rescue her from bankruptcy in 1856 and 1857 do not mention Seacole's "colour," and a Times report on the festival at the Royal Surrey Gardens merely notes that Seacole, "a Creole by birth, and sutler by profession," is a "genial old lady." (25) Similarly, an article printed in Jamaica's Daily Advertiser at roughly the same time observes that Seacole will be able to withstand the climate in Delhi because she is "a Creole by birth" (the Advertiser is alluding to Seacole's intention to set out for India). (26) The obituaries printed in The Times and Jamaica's Daily Gleaner after Seacole's death in 1881 draw attention to the fact that she was a "Creole" born in Jamaica, but Seacole's services to the British Army in the Crimea seem to be of more interest than her "colour." (27)

Seacole herself cites and quotes a number of these reports in Wonderful Adventures, suggesting that she is untroubled by a putative lack of fit between her self-perceptions and how she is represented in newspaper reports. For example, Seacole quotes from Punch's humorous poem "A Stir for Seacole" three times, giving almost the whole poem in slightly amended form in the course of her narrative. The poem, published in December 1856, alludes to Seacole's "berry-brown face" twice, but it does not comment further on Seacole's race or ethnicity. In May of the following year a journalist in the same magazine proclaimed Seacole "OUR OWN VIVANDIERE," exhorting his readers to assist "MOTHER SEACOLE, in this, her season of want." (28) In the accompanying illustration, an inky-looking Seacole is depicted holding the snowy white hand of a wounded soldier, and brandishing a copy of Punch. In spite of this visual representation of Seacole's physical "difference," the Punch journalist reiterates the statement that Seacole is one of "our own." Evidently alluding to theatrical representations of sutlers, Punch asks: "Who would give a guinea to see a mimic sutler-woman, and a foreigner, frisk and amble about the stage, when he might bestow the money on a genuine English one [i.e., Seacole], reduced to a two-pair back, and in imminent danger of being obliged to climb into an attic?" (29)

The juxtaposition of Punch's racialized image of Seacole, and the assertion that she is "a genuine English [suffer]" suggests that the journalist does not regard dark skin and English national identity as at all incompatible. Similarly, far from racializing Seacole consistently, memoir writers use a plethora of signifiers to describe her. Although Alexis Soyer seems to derive amusement from characterizing Seacole as "la mire noire," Lady Alicia Blackwood, who was in the Crimea at the same time, does not mention race in her description of Seacole (Blackwood is more concerned by the outrageous prices she claims Seacole charged at her "British Hotel"). (30) Even Florence Nightingale, who wrote a vituperative letter about Seacole to her brother-in-law two decades after the war, did not draw attention to Seacole's race, colour or culture in her account of the "drunkenness and improper conduct" which Nightingale claimed were encouraged at the British Hotel. (31) If Nightingale is to be believed, it is not because of Seacole's "duskier skin" that a connection between Seacole and the Nightingale nurses was deemed improper; it was because of Seacole's lax morals. Of course, Nightingale's vehement denunciation of Seacole may very well have been a foil for her racist assumptions (for example, assuming a connection between perceived racial characteristics and morality), and we have no reason to discount Seacole's suspicions as to why she was not given employment as one of Nightingale's nurses. All the same, what emerges from a survey of nineteenth-century verbal and visual representations of Seacole is the diversity of the ways in which she is described. Certainly, she is dubbed a "Creole," "a native of Jamaica," "a lady of colour": but she is also a skilled "doctress," a patriot who should be rewarded "for her kindness to the British soldiery," a "genial old lady" of "warm heart and courageous disposition." (32) If Seacole set out to construct herself in de-racialized, feminized, national (i.e., British) terms, then she appears to have succeeded, since her contemporaries routinely draw attention to precisely those aspects of her character which she emphasizes in Wonderful Adventures--generosity, femininity, propriety, patriotism and so on. Placing Seacole in an imagined textual community of English language readers and writers will further destabilize any attempt to contain her within the parameters of national, cultural or racial definitions.

In his discussion of the origins of national consciousness and patriotism, Benedict Anderson observes that "nation:" has always been conceived in language, not in blood. "Foreign" subjects may be invited into an imagined community and "naturalized" as members of a nation that "presents itself as simultaneously open and closed" (since naturalization is frequently an arduous procedure). (33) The roots of nationalism lie in the spread of vernacular print-capitalism in the age of mechanical reproduction (Anderson dates this from 1500 onwards), a development that was coterminous with the genesis of commercial and industrial bourgeoisies around the world. (34) The spread of print culture in turn created what Anderson calls "reading solidarities" which allowed "rapidly growing numbers of people to think about themselves, and to relate themselves to others, in profoundly new ways." (35) Both the book and the newspaper are key factors in the construction of these national "imagined communities" in which people are culturally and linguistically connected to each other by contemporaneous reading matter. Every time a newspaper is opened and read, an "extraordinary mass ceremony" is performed by millions of people at regular intervals, across the globe. "What more vivid figure for the secular, historically clocked, imagined community can be envisioned?" (36)

Vernacular print culture also facilitated the consolidation of imperial ideologies in a process that Anderson in a resonant phrase calls "stretching the short, tight skin of the nation over the gigantic body of the empire," and it is no coincidence that print culture, capitalism and imperialism rose (or rather, extended) together. (37) The mass production and distribution of print materials, together with the rapid transmission of news from one locale to another, permitted the dissemination of "official nationalisms" by imperial powers such as Russia, Britain, France, in a sort of "mental miscegenation." (38) Anderson quotes Macaulay's notorious "Minute on Education" (1836) in which it is predicted that the introduction of a thoroughly English educational system in India would create "a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and intellect." "[I]t can be safely said that from this point on, all over the expanding empire, if at different speeds, Macaulayism was pursued," writes Anderson. (39) There is no reason to believe that Macaulayism was pursued less vigorously in Jamaica than in any other colonial location. Sherlock and Bennett point out that English-speaking colonial Jamaica began to take cultural shape after the English took the island from the Spanish in 1655, and it continued to develop until independent sovereign status was achieved in 1962. (40) By the time Seacole published Wonderful Adventures, the colonial connection between Jamaica and England was nearly two hundred years old, and although Seacole says little about her education, from an early stage her stated (if not felt) cultural affiliations lay at least in part with the British-English. As an adult, Seacole evidently spoke and wrote "Standard English," and there is no trace of Jamaican vernacular in Wonderful Adventures. (41) None of the newspaper reports featuring Seacole draws attention to any perceived "oddities" of language on her part, and a letter she sent to The Times in November 1856 deploys a register that is entirely consistent with that of Wonderful Adventures. (42)

The point, of course, is not that it is anomalous for a middle class "Creole woman" from Jamaica to speak and write Standard English: I draw attention to Seacole's language and register only because they further problematize the widely-held notion that Wonderful Adventures charts a transformation from "Jamaican" identity into "British" or "English." Indeed, neither Britain nor Jamaica may be assumed to exist as simple a priori "facts" in any clear sense. (43) As Homi K. Bhabha has suggested, nationness is constructed as a form of social and textual affiliation, whereby "the shreds and patches of cultural signification" are gathered together to form the signs of a coherent national culture. (44) If the nation is produced, then it makes no sense to offer explanations of (national) identity which assume the existence of single national origins. (45) Seacole, and other colonial subjects who are similarly positioned in relation to imperial ideology, may be said to exemplify and produce "[c]ounter-narratives of the nation that continually evoke and erase its totalizing boundaries--both actual and conceptual," thereby disrupting those ideological manoeuvres through which "imagined communities" acquire essentialist identities. (46) If national, cultural boundaries are unstable from the outset, it is clearly a mistake to assume that "Jamaica," "England" or "Britain" were sealed-off entities, since these locales (both physical and metaphysical) existed--indeed, still exist--in reciprocal, dialectical relation to each other. In which case, it may well be the case that Seacole was a (self)perceived "British subject" before she ever set foot in England, and her narrative gives no hint that this cultural identity compromised or was perceived to compromise her identification as a "Creole." This is what Bhabha calls "double-writing or dissemination ... [t]he structure of liminality within the nation," whereby the nation is a liminal signifying space that is internally marked, perhaps even defined by, heterogeneous discourses and histories. (47)

The nation-space is not singular, nor is the colonized, creolized subject merely a "mediator" or a "buffer-zone" between two discrete cultural entities. (48) Again, the newspaper provides a useful gauge of Seacole's own sense of membership in imagined, national, imperial communities. In the 1840s and 1850s, Jamaican newspapers were filled with accounts of British colonial exploits, including events in the Crimea, and it appears from Wonderful Adventures that Seacole either read these reports herself or heard about them from other sources. Referring to the events of 1854, Seacole writes, "[b]efore I left Jamaica for Navy Bay [in Panama] ... war had been declared against Russia, and we were all anxiously expecting news of a descent upon the Crimea." (49) That a military conflict taking place thousands of miles away should be a source of anxiety in Jamaica demonstrates the spatial and temporal compressions and connections effected by print culture--specifically, newspapers--in the nineteenth century. Maps also formed a part of this global imagining, in what Pratt has called the formation of a European or planetary subject. (50) Seacole describes how she would "stand for hours in silent thought in front of an old map of the world, in a little corner of which some one had chalked a red cross, to enable me to distinguish where the Crimea was; and as I traced the route thither, all difficulties would vanish." (51) The map is mentioned earlier in the narrative when Seacole recalls that as a young woman, she would indulge her wish to travel by "tracing upon an old map the route to England." (52) Far from avowing her "Jamaican" identity, Seacole says she longed to "see the blue hills of Jamaica fade into the distance," a frequently-quoted remark that has contributed to the contemporary critical notion that England is Seacole's misplaced and elusive cathexis, whereas "Jamaican social reality" is calculatedly erased from the text. (53)

But it is travel that Seacole longs for (if anything, she fetishizes the "route" and the ships, not England itself), nor is it necessary for her to relocate herself in order to be acculturated as "English" or "British." The desire to travel to England need not symptomatize a wish to be English, and it is also clear from Wonderful Adventures that Seacole does not "become British" once she goes to Britain. Rather, newspaper and map exemplify the pre-existing cultural and intellectual interconnectedness of locales that are physically separated by thousands of miles. On Seacole's map and in the newspapers which featured articles about her, Jamaica, England and the Crimea are situated on the same page, providing a neat figure for the co-existing national and imperial affiliations which characterize the Creole colonial subject. Wonderful Adventures may express a British patriotism that seems distasteful to modern readers, but the text's transculturative features--the way it selects and invents from the materials of dominant, metropolitan culture, along with Jamaican Creole culture--render it a "counter-narrative of the nation" (although not necessarily a counter-discursive one). (54) In that case, the historicized, politicized and contextualized readings that Cornel West has advocated in a different context will yield more nuanced accounts than ethnic absolutisms or racially overdetermined interpretations. (55) Seacole was a member of Jamaica's "coloured" middle class, and it is highly significant that as a young woman, she moved in colonial circles, nursing British officers stationed in Kingston. (56) By the time she arrived in the Crimea, she was already acquainted with British soldiers from numerous regiments; in fact, it is the "inclination to join my old friends of the 97th, 48th and other regiments" that provides at least the rhetorical motivation for Seacole's journey to the battlefront, where she characterizes the endangered soldiers as her "large family of children." (57) Seacole makes numerous references to her soldier "sons" in this section of the narrative, and if her account is to be believed, the familial identification is reciprocal. Many of the soldiers address her as "Mother" or "Aunty," and a lieutenant who was brought up in the Caribbean calls her "Mami," in the style of Creole children. (58) As I suggested earlier, the colonial relation is represented as an affective, familial one, and there is no hint of racism in Seacole's descriptions (although modern readers will undoubtedly be troubled by stereotypical characterizations of Seacole as "mother" and "aunt").

Given Seacole's frequent mentions of the 47th, 48th, and 97th regiments, along with the length of the Crimea section of Wonderful Adventures (it takes up more than half of the total narrative), it is surprising that few critics have commented extensively on the significance of Seacole's engagements with the military. Perhaps those who wish to regard Seacole as a subaltern "woman of colour" find her enthusiasm for war as distasteful as her imperialist sentiments (Pouchet Paquet regards Seacole's stated desire to be "a Crimean heroine" as a decisive factor in the erasure of her "Jamaican inner core"), and there has been little attempt to probe how national, gendered and military affiliations might overlap with each other. (59) The editors of The Women and War Reader point out that women are frequently gendered as mothers, carers and munitions-makers during war-time, when they may express their citizenship and nationalism by sending their sons to war, or even fighting those wars themselves. (60) Certainly, war in the Crimea provides Seacole with an opportunity to display her pre-existing nationalism as a loyal "British subject," while at the same time emphasizing her gender as "mother" and nurse. Seacole's descriptions of her non-racial encounters in the Crimea anticipate Paul Gilroy's observation that "the constraints of bodily existence" as experienced in the army or on the batdefield provide valued sources of identification and empathy. "The recurrence of pain, disease, humiliation and loss of dignity, grief and care for those one loves can all contribute to an abstract sense of a human similarity powerful enough to make solidarities based on cultural particularities appear suddenly trivial," writes Gilroy. (61) The notion of pragmatic planetary humanism in the context of war provides useful insights into Seacole's military and emphatically gendered identifications, since it is by representing herself as mother of the British army and Crimean heroine that she displays her imperialist and nationalist loyalties. In this context at least, maternity and militarism seem entirely compatible, and while race is not altogether elided, it was clearly not regarded as being of defining importance at the battlefront where as Gilroy suggests, different kinds of solidarities may be forged. It seems appropriate then, that the Punch image I cited earlier (a "blackened" Seacole tending to a white soldier) is accompanied by an article which refers to "Mother Seacole," "the army's mother" nurturing her "sons" in the Crimea both now and in the future, "perhaps in China, perhaps on some other distant shore to which Englishmen go to serve their country [where] there may be woman's work to do." (62)

The juxtaposition of race and maternity in visual images of Seacole may well be no more than a comforting imperial construction of the willing colonial who is furthering, and thereby justifying, the imperial cause. And yet imperialist war zones were also the sites in which maternity and militarism were embodied by non-colonials (i.e., white people), and Mary Poovey points out that these highly moralized "instincts" were regarded as inherent and "raceless." (63) In her account of the nineteenth-century social construction of Florence Nightingale, Poovey draws attention to Nightingale's exploitation of the militancy inherent in the maternal ideal, a domestic ideology which allowed Nightingale to combine "womanly" self-sacrifice with a more aggressive image of work. (64) It is likely that Seacole was influenced by Nightingale's "hero" status in her own desire to be a "Crimean heroine," and Poovey's insights regarding Nightingale's military domestic ideology shed light both on Seacole's self-representations, and on representations of her. If the English-reading public was Seacole's virtual, imagined community, then the military evidently provided her with a physical community of "soldier sons" to whom she could tend in an environment where gendered imperial endeavour rather than class or race were (rhetorically at least) the deciding factors of one's perceived identity. (65) Soldier-son and nurse-mother are liminal figures, "ambiguously placed on the imperial divide" as they move between multiple geographical locales (from England to Jamaica to the Crimea) in order to protect the physical boundaries of imperial nation states. (66) Seacole's reiterated affiliations to British soldiers both in Jamaica and in the Crimea seem designed to underscore her femininity, patriotism and heroism, while also emphasizing her self-perceived identification with a British community of military men who, like her, are working on behalf of empire. (67)

In that case, it is mistaken to suggest that one pre-existing, stable cultural identity is cancelled out by another when Seacole moves from Jamaica to Britain. Imperial, racial, national, social and gendered identifications are imbricated and implicated in complex ways, so that Jamaican, British, black, female identities cannot be conceptualized as discrete and self-contained. Seacole does not stop identifying as a Creole from Jamaica when she leaves the island to embark on her travels, and we have seen that newspaper accounts of her work in the Crimea by no means overlook her perceived race or ethnicity. It is inaccurate to suggest that Seacole constructed or reconstructed herself as British or non-black: rather, her domestic, maternal, military work was deemed to be of defining importance in locating her amidst a community of like-minded imperialists who, at the very least, suspended their preoccupation with issues of race and colour. It may well be that the emphasis on maternity in the Crimea, and the subordination of race to a gendered, imperialistic identity, exemplify the racist imperial project at work during war time, and I am certainly not suggesting that race was unremarked by, or unimportant for the people with whom Seacole came into contact. Still, it is noteworthy that Seacole's commentators apparently experienced no difficulty in constructing her in maternal, imperial, British terms.

The newspaper reports describing Seacole and her activities in the Crimea provide the most persuasive evidence as to the "imagined communities" into which she was slotted. That these accounts brought Seacole into virtual contact with myriad reading communities is clear from Wonderful Adventures, where she quotes one of her "old Jamaica friends" who has written to tell her that "we see your name frequently in the newspapers" and that Seacole is "an honour to the Isle of Springs [a nickname for Jamaica]." (68) At one point, Seacole herself urges her (English) reader "to refer to the accounts which were given in the newspapers of the spring of 1855" so that she will be "acquit[ted] of any intention to exaggerate," and we have seen that she frequently quotes from newspaper and magazine accounts of her deeds. (69) The simultaneity of memoir and newspaper report connects Seacole to an English-speaking, English-reading middle class readership, permitting her to align herself with this "community" through the assumption of shared reading matter. Further, as regards the content of these newspaper reports, it is highly significant that nineteenth-century journalists do not group Seacole with the "coloured" and black inhabitants of Jamaica. critics who offer decontextualized, racialized readings of Wonderful Adventures seldom observe that its author settled in London at precisely the point when racial attitudes became more intolerant and rigidified. The eighteenth century might have been the era of slavery and abolitionist activity, but modern historians seem to agree that racial prejudice existed largely at an individual level during that time, so that "no clear pattern of institutionalized or socially sanctioned discrimination was in evidence." (70) Widespread and consistent prejudice did not occur until the middle of the nineteenth century, when a "hardening" of racial attitudes and a "more strident racialism" emerged, along with clearer demarcations of race and class. (71) From now on, race and social origin became the primary determinants of a person's identity, substituting the standards of character and conduct which were previously of key importance in determining one's social standing. (72)

Although the historico-ideological trajectory plotted here might seem telescoped and overly teleological (it is almost certainly the case that attitudes were "hardening" long before the 1850s), Seacole did arrive in England during what Hyam calls "a decade of [imperial] crisis," which in turn contributed to the spread of racist attitudes at this time. There had been a revolt in Ceylon in 1848, and by 1856 Britain was at war in Persia and China, having only just ended operations in the Crimea. (73) The 1857 Indian uprisings, and the (later) prolonged aftermath of the 1865 rebellion in Jamaica, only deepened the collective sense of imperial and ideological urgency. It was perhaps not the best time for a colonial to settle in England, so it might seem remarkable that none of Seacole's commentators singled her out as a foreigner arriving from an island whose inhabitants were widely regarded as pumpkin-eating, intransigent "spoilt children." (74) The journalistic differentiation of Seacole from other colonial subjects is strikingly exemplified if we take seriously the idea that the newspaper is a site of discursive simultaneity, representing diverse and physically distant cultures and locales which are connected by virtue of their appearance within the same textual space. During 1857, The Times published numerous articles and letters in which readers were urged to donate money to the Seacole Fund, and the festivities held at the Royal Surrey Gardens for Seacole's financial benefit were also extensively reported on with marked approval. In November of the same year, The Timesprinted a sequence of letters about Jamaica in order to coincide with the public response to events in India. Catherine Hall notes that these letters conveyed a negative message concerning free black people in Jamaica: the freed "West Indian" slave is characterized as lazy and insubordinate, and The Times journalist exhorts his readers to go to Jamaica "and view the negro in all the blazonry of his idleness, his pride, his ingratitude, contemptuously sneering at the industry of that race which made him free.... [D]o not sacrifice English pith, toil and money to Quashee," the reporter concludes. (75)

These textual juxtapositions are crucial because they indicate how Seacole was not described--as "lazy Quashee," "a West Indian negro," or "a lazy Jamaican," stereotypes which had taken hold at least since Carlyle's "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question" in 1849 (and it is possible that Seacole's descriptions of her own industry were intended to contrast with contemporary notions such as Carlyle's). Nor was Seacole aligned with what Richard Altick, apparently without irony, calls the "veritable invasion of savages" which occurred in London from the end of the eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. (76) When Seacole arrived in London in 1854, "the surge of public exhibitions was over," so-called social Darwinism was about to take hold, and the ideological climate for an enhanced, institutionalized racism had apparently been established. (77) In 1857, the year Seacole published Wonderful Adventures, the British spectacle-going and reading public would have grown accustomed to representations of black and "brown" people from the colonies and from America. For example, the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's phenomenally popular Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852 was followed by scores of theatrical adaptations and a slew of Uncle Tom mementos, ornaments and mulatto dolls. (78) Moreover, Britain's black population may have been small at this time, (79) but as Lyn Innes points out, numerous African-American ex-slaves toured England during the mid-nineteenth century to advertise their publications and to generate support for the Abolitionist cause. (80) Many of these visitors drew favourable contrasts between their reception in London and the racism they encountered in the U.S., leading Douglas Lorimer to conclude that "[w]hen a black visitor entered mid-nineteenth-century England, his [sic] social position, not his colour determined the quality of his reception." This is perhaps a rather optimistic account of English tolerance, although Lorimer does concede that London was becoming increasingly hostile towards black visitors, and he admits that "[i]n some instances, blacks faced outright discrimination." (81)

If we credit Wonderful Adventures, Seacole experienced no such prejudice after her brushes with the various war offices and nursing agencies in 1854, and she makes no further mention of any negative attention paid to her "somewhat duskier" complexion (of course, Seacole had good reasons for not alluding to racist encounters in her autobiography). While contemporary critics frequently interpellate Seacole as black and/or Jamaican, apparently it did not occur to her nineteenth-century acquaintances and readers to do so. After her return from the Crimean battlefront during this era of "hardening," Seacole claims to have been welcomed by "friends" whenever she turned a corner in London. She attributes this to her poverty ("Now, would all this have happened if I had returned to England a rich woman? Surely not.") and to the fact that she belongs to a military community that served the British imperial cause faithfully and well. (82) Considerations of race and colour apparently recede when Seacole is "[brought] in contact with some friend ... who soon reminds me of our old life before Sebastopol," as she puts it towards the end of her narrative. (83) Accordingly, it is on returning to London that Seacole displays what seems to be her strongest sense of identification--not with the people in Jamaica, who we know followed her "adventures" with some interest; nor even with "the British" in any generalized sense. Like the soldiers she nursed, Seacole has, as one of the testimonial letters printed in Wonderful Adventures puts it, "been an instrument in the hands of the Almighty to preserve many a gallant heart to the empire, to fight and win her battles, if ever again war may become a necessity." (84) Seacole's military, imperial self-identifications overshadow national, cultural and racial affiliations in her own representations as well as in the representations of her contemporaries, perhaps presenting an unpalatable truth for modern critics who are anxious to recruit her as the doyenne of a black / Caribbean / postcolonial literary canon. Present-day ideological agendas notwithstanding, it seems clear enough that Seacole regarded herself, and may have been regarded, as a member of the British military and imperial community long before and long after the Crimean war.


The argument that Seacole neither described herself nor was described in consistently racialized terms by nineteenth-century commentators may well seem irrelevant to the ways in which we codify and understand race now, but I hope my discussion of Seacole's autoethnographic representations and her imperial military affiliations will at least raise questions about the classification and canonization of writers whose transcultural, transracial, transnational identities evade definition along cultural, racial and/or national lines. Reading the Seacole text as "autoethnography" reveals the extent to which it is invested in the colonizer's terms, and situating it in its myriad contexts emphasizes the intercrossing vectors of imperial identity that tend to be overlooked in the contemporary drive to canonize, racialize and ethnicize writers like Seacole--"mixed" subjects who cannot be represented without engaging the terms of pseudo-biologism (e.g., "half-Jamaican" or "mixed") or downright racism (e.g., "half-caste").

Referring to what he calls "the founding absurdity of race," Paul Gilroy insists that now is the time for race to "wither" as a concept and a category since it has become conceptually and epistemologically irrelevant in a nano-political age. (85) All the same, race-thinking shows no signs of "withering" in those readings of Seacole which locate her as a black Jamaican woman who compromises her identity by re-constructing herself in imperial mould. My analysis of the ontological factors which are at play in constructions of Mary Seacole is intended to contribute to Gilroy's critique of race and race-thinking as absurd, while also problematizing the retrospective recruitment of historicoliterary figures for service in an ever-burgeoning black canon. It is worth pausing to reflect that if we choose not to continue categorizing authors primarily in terms of their (perceived) racial affiliations, the future of the black canon as it has been conceived of by critics such as Henry Louis Gates, is by no means certain. (86) The fact that Seacole cannot be named or located by and within the present structures and terms of critical discourse should at least motivate us to initiate what will undoubtedly be a long and arduous process of epistemological change, as people within the academy continue to rethink how texts are currently organized, criticized and taught. Of course, the black canon and black writing are literary institutions by now, and they will not be dismantled overnight. Still, while "the black subject" may be a comforting fallacy, perhaps even a political necessity at present, there is an urgent need to interrogate what or who we mean when we speak of it, who we include in this category, who we exclude, and whether it is useful or wise to continue adopting and adapting the terms and structures of racialized, racist epistemology for our own use.

The academy seems a good enough place to begin this process, and my readings of Wonderful Adventures are intended to suggest alternative avenues of investigation to those currently pursued by critics who are ideologically invested in constructing, maintaining and policing the boundaries of the black canon. Like John Guillory, I believe that reading is an ethical practice rather than a trivial or a merely aesthetic pursuit, so that the way we read and the ways we teach others to read may effect changes in the world (however incremental). (87) There is then, an ethical imperative to scrutinize racialized readings more closely, since academic practices reflect and influence events outside the university. In The World, the Text and the Critic, Edward Said reminds us that critics create the values by which "art" is judged and understood, while they are also responsible for articulating those voices that are dominated, displaced or silenced by the textuality of texts. "Texts are a system of forces institutionalized by the reigning culture at some human cost to its various components," writes Said: "Most of all, criticism is worldly and in the world so long as it opposes monocentrism, a concept I understand as working in conjunction with ethnocentrism, which licenses a culture to cloak itself in the particular authority of certain values over others." (88) If the terms of critical discourse do no more than recycle in amended form the ethnocentric assumptions of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European writers and thinkers, then we are not doing our job as critics, nor are we doing justice to people whose identities continue to be misdescribed by the catachreses of chromaticism, nationalism and racial discourse.

University of Toronto


(1) Jane Robinson, Mary Seacole: The Charismatic Black Nurse Who Became a Heroine of the Crimea (London: Constable and Robinson, 2004). In North America, the book is subtitled "the most famous black woman of the Victorian age." For information about Seacole in the public eye, see the Mary Seacole Centre for Nursing Practice webpage,

(2) Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands, ed. Sara Salih (London: Penguin, 2005). All references are to this edition. Helen Rappaport, the historical consultant and associate producer on the documentary, discovered and purchased the Challen portrait in the course of her research.

(3) In 2004, Seacole was voted "greatest black Briton," ranking more highly than such figures as Naomi Campbell, Lennox Lewis and Ms. Dynamite. See http: //,,l144677,00.html and

(4) See the Mary Seacole Resource Page, and http://www.yasmin_alibhai_brown/story/jsp?story=115487.

(5) Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes (New York: Routledge, 1993), 7.

(6) Ibid., 102.

(7) Lizbeth Paravisini-Gebert, "Mrs. Seacole's Wonderful Adventures in Many Lands and the Consciousness of Transit," in Black Victorians, Black Victoriana, ed. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina (Rutgers U. Press, 2003), 71-87, 71; Sandra Pouchet Paquet, "The Enigma of Arrival: The (sic) Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands," African American Review 26 (1992): 651-63, 656. Bernard McKenna also assumes that "Jamaican identity" is a given when he argues that "Mary Seacole tends to subvert a discourse of English colonialism by subtly reaffirming three important aspects of her Jamaican identity in relation to England as a colonizing force: race, spirituality, peripheral membership in the empire." See Bernard McKenna, "'Fancies of Exclusive Possession'; Validation and Dissociation in Mary Seacole's England and Caribbean," PQ76 (1997): 219-39, 220.

(8) See for example Gillian Whitlock, The Intimate Empire: Reading Women's Autobiography (London: Cassell, 2000), 83-96, 90. Also see Pouchet Paquet, 659; Gikandi, 138.

(9) Paravisini-Gebert, 83.

(10) Ibid., 85.

(11) Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands in The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers, eds. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and William L. Andrews (Oxford U. Press, 1988).

(12) Edward Said, The World, the Text and the Critic (Harvard U. Press, 1983), 40.

(13) Seacole, 11, 14, 58, 59, 74. For descriptions of Creoles, see Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, Or, General Survey of the Ancient and Modern State of That Island: with Reflections on its Situation, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commerce, Laws and Government, 3 vols. (London: 1774), 2:265; and see also Wylie Sypher, "The West Indian as a 'Character' in the 18th Century," SP36 (1939): 503-20, 507. There is a summary of historical attitudes towards Jamaica's "mixed race" population in Rhonda Frederick's article, "Creole Performance in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands," Gender and History 15 (2003): 487-506, 490-92.

(14) Pratt, 35.

(15) Seacole, 91, 112.

(16) Pratt, 6-7.

(17) Seacole, 73-74.

(18) Ibid., 13.

(19) Ibid., 170.

(20) The Times, 30th July 1857.

(21) See also Anthony Trollope, The West Indies and the Spanish Main (London: Chapman and Hall, 1867), 23.

(22) The Morning Advertiser, 19 July 1855.

(23) The Times, 18th December 1855; The Times, 7th November 1856.

(24) The Illustrated London News, 25th July 1857.

(25) The Times, 24th November, 1856; 25th November 1856; 27th November 1856; 28th November 1856; 29th November 1856; 28th July 1857.

(26) Daily Advertiser and Lawton's Commercial Gazette, August 29th, 1857.

(27) The Times, 21st May 1881 reports that Seacole was a Creole who was born in Jamaica; The Daily Gleaner and Decordovas Advertising Sheet 9th June 1881 describes Seacole as an "estimable lady ... a native of Jamaica [who] distinguished herself as a nurse in the Crimean War."

(28) Punch, or the London Charivari, December 6th 1856; May 30th 1857.

(29) Punch, or the London Charivari, 30 May 1857.

(30) Alicia Blackwood, A Narrative of Personal Experiences and Impressions During a Residence on the Bosphorus Throughout the Crimean War (London: Hatchard, 1881), 262.

(31) Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine MS.9004, Letter from Florence Nightingale to Sir Harry Verney, 5th August 1870.

(32) The Times, 7th November 1856, 28th July 1857, Illustrated London News, 25th July 1857.

(33) Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983), 145-46.

(34) Ibid., 37, 76-7.

(35) Ibid., 79, 36.

(36) Ibid., 35.

(37) Ibid., 86.

(38) Ibid., 91. English newspaper reports about Seacole were sometimes reprinted in Jamaican newspapers a few weeks later.

(39) Ibid.

(40) Philip Sherlock and Hazel Bennett, The Story of the Jamaican People (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 1998), 77, 372.

(41) In one anecdotal account written after Seacole's death, it is claimed that she was on visiting terms with the British Royal Family: "Once she just walked over to Buckingham Palace and rang the bell. Rebuked by the guard for having come without an appointment, she said: 'Cho, me son, the Riyal Family is glad any time to ask me up for tea.' And so it proved to be--on that occasion." Notes in Kingston National Library archive, unreferenced: 1951?

(42) The Times, 29th November 1856; this letter was reprinted in Jamaica's Daily Advertiser and Lawton's Commercial Gazette, 12th January 1857.

(43) For this reason, I depart from those critics who regard Seacole as "particularly" or essentially "Jamaican." See for example, Frederick, 504.

(44) Homi K. Bhabha, "Dissemination. Time, narrative and the margins of the modern nation," in The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994), 139-70; 140, 145.

(45) Ibid., 141. Bhabha is quoting Said here.

(46) Ibid., 149.

(47) Ibid., 148.

(48) E.K. Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-1820 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 305.

(49) Seacole, 67.

(50) Pratt, 30.

(51) Seacole, 67.

(52) Ibid., 13.

(53) Ibid., 13. Also see Pouchet Paquet, 657.

(54) For "transculturation," see Pratt, 6.

(55) See Cornel West, "Black Critics and the Pitfalls of Canon Formation," in Keeping Faith (New York: Routledge, 1993), 33-43, 40.

(56) Seacole also visited England twice for a total of three years, although almost nothing is said about those visits. See Seacole, 4.

(57) Seacole, 132.

(58) Ibid., 141.

(59) Pouchet Paquet, 659.

(60) The Women and War Reader, eds. Lois Ann Lorentzen and Jennifer Turpin (New York U. Press, 1998), xi.

(61) Paul Gilroy, Against Race (Harvard U. Press, 2000), 17.

(62) Punch, 30th May 1857.

(63) Mary Poovey, Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England (Chicago U. Press, 1988), 187.

(64) Poovey, 188, 178.

(65) Punch draws attention to the fact that Seacole tends to both black-coats and redcoats.

(66) Ann McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge, 1995), 48.

(67) I use "affiliation" in its literal, etymological sense here: the word is from Latin affiliare to adopt, filus means "son."

(68) Seacole, 159.

(69) Ibid., 119.

(70) Douglas A. Lorimer, Colour, Class and the Victorians (Leicester U. Press, 1978), 31.

(71) Lorimer, 106-7; Ronald Hyam, Britain's Imperial Century, 1815-1914. A Study of Empire and Expansion 2nd ed. (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1993), 155-66. See also Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects (Chicago U. Press, 2002), 338.

(72) Lorimer, 130, 112; Hyam, 159-60, 157.

(73) Hyam, 145.

(74) See Thomas Carlyle, "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question," Fraser's Magazine (London, 1849): 670-79; Hyam, 153.

(75) Hall, 358, 348-49.

(76) Richard D. Altick, The Shows of London (Harvard U. Press, 1978), 279.

(77) Ibid., 287.

(78) Lorimer, 81-85; Altick, 283; Gilroy notes that in the late nineteenth century, material culture and technological developments provided new cultural materials in the construction of "an imperial phantasmagoria." See Gilroy, 139.

(79) Hyam, 155. Hyam says there were almost no black people in mid-nineteenth-century Britain: this is surely an understatement.

(80) Lyn Innes, A History of Black and South Asian Writing in Britain, 1700-2000 (Cambridge U. Press, 2002), 73-5.

(81) Lorimer, 56, 54, 67.

(82) Seacole, 170.

(83) Ibid.

(84) Ibid., 165-66.

(85) Gilroy, 14.

(86) See Henry Louis Gates Jr., "The Master's Pieces: On Canon Formation and the African-American Tradition," in Loose Canons (Oxford U. Press, 1992), 17-42.

(87) John Guillory, "The Ethical Practice of Modernity," in The Turn to Ethics, ed. Marjorie Garber et. al. (New York: Routledge, 2000), 29-46, 30.

(88) Said, 53.
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Title Annotation:Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands
Author:Salih, Sara
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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