Art on the Edge

Circulating Now from the NLM Historical Collections

By Ken Koyle, Ginny Roth, and Krista Stracka

Hedley Vicars was not a war hero. He was not a renowned strategist or tactician; his presence on the battlefield did not strike fear in the hearts of his enemies. In fact, Captain Hedley Vicars was killed by a Russian musket ball during his first direct combat engagement on the hills in front of Sebastopol on March 22, 1855. If not for his friendship with the biographer Catherine Marsh, Hedley Vicars’ legacy would likely have been little more than a forgotten grave on a Crimean War battlefield. Catharine Marsh did count Hedley as a close friend, however, so when he died she was moved to immortalize him as a veritable Christian saint in a book that would eventually be translated into no fewer than eight languages, with hundreds of thousands of copies (plus a few plagiarized variants) printed and sold around the…

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