Mary Jane Seacole OM (née Grant; 1805 – 14 May 1881) was a British-Jamaican business woman and nurse who set up the "British Hotel" behind the lines during the Crimean War. She described this as "a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers", and provided succour for wounded servicemen on the battlefield. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton.She acquired knowledge of herbal medicine in the Caribbean. When the Crimean War broke out, she was one of two outstanding nurses to tend to the wounded, along with Florence Nightingale. Hoping to assist, Seacole applied to the War Office but was refused, so she travelled independently and set up her hotel and tended to the battlefield wounded. She became extremely popular among service personnel, who raised money for her when she faced destitution after the war.
After her death, she was largely forgotten for almost a century but today is celebrated as a woman who made a success of her career, despite experiencing racial prejudice. Her autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857), is one of the earliest autobiographies of a mixed-race woman, although some aspects of its accuracy have been questioned by present-day supporters of Nightingale. The erection of a statue of her at St Thomas' Hospital, London on 30 June 2016, describing her as a "pioneer nurse", has generated controversy and opposition from supporters of Nightingale. Earlier controversy broke out in the United Kingdom late in 2012 over reports of a proposal to remove her from the UK's National Curriculum.