Adventures in Mashonaland: By Two Hospital Nurses

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Written by Rosanna ('Rose') Blennerhassett (c.1844-1907), the daughter of baronet Sir Arthur Blennerhassett, this work of 1893 recounts the adventures of two Anglican nurses who worked in Umtali (now Mutare in northern Zimbabwe). In 1890 Blennerhassett sailed to Johannesburg to nurse victims of a typhoid outbreak, meeting Lucy Sleeman on board. At the end of their period of service, the pair opted to go north into Mashonaland rather than returning to England. They undertook a two-week journey of 190 miles on foot in the bush from the Pungwe river to Umtali, where they established the first hospital, in a series of beehive-shaped mud huts. The pair remained there for two years, often working without a doctor. The book recounts every aspect of their daily adventures, from baking cakes and constructing coffins out of whisky cases to bizarre encounters with witch hunters, a man-eating lion, and Cecil Rhodes.