Friday 7 March 2014

Daughters of Time - Mary Seacole

As part of the Daughters of Time blog tour, I have been asked to let Catherine Johnson - author of the short story within the collection, The Lad That Stands Before Me - why she decided to write about Mary Seacole.

Oh, there will be a small review of Daughters of Time sometime later today... So, keep your eyes peeled. Now, will hand you over to Catherine Johnson...

Why I Chose Mary Seacole
To be honest, I didn’t really choose Mary Seacole – she sort of chose me. I’m mixed race, like Mary, and I knew about her already. In fact, my uncle Curtis Johnson made a bust of Mary that was reproduced on one of Jamaica’s postage stamps. And one of my big ‘things’ is people of colour in Britain in the past – we have been here for ever, you know, or at least since Roman times! When I started, I thought I wanted to write about Mary in London, aged about fifteen or sixteen, on her first visit. She never really talked about this trip
and there are only two lines in her book about it. It made me think: A girl from a tiny island in the 
Caribbean in the biggest city on earth… But I think  that story will have to wait for another time.

One other thing – I’ve used the word ‘Negro’ in my story. It’s how an officer in the British Army describes Mrs Seacole; the word was in common use and not thought to be derogatory at the time. In her own writing, Mrs Seacole described herself  as ‘Creole’ (meaning ‘one born in Jamaica’) and sometimes simply as ‘brown’.

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