Lola Montez: A Life

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The exploits of Lola Montez - onstage as a dancer and an actress, in politics as a power behind thrones, and in bedrooms around the world - made her one of the best-known women of the Victorian era. Born Eliza Gilbert, daughter of British and Irish parents, she transformed herself into an aristocratic Spanish dancer, carrying on an audacious masquerade that took her to Europe, America, and Australia and attracting admirers and scandal wherever she went. When she died in 1861 at age forty, her obituary appeared in...
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Overview

The exploits of Lola Montez - onstage as a dancer and an actress, in politics as a power behind thrones, and in bedrooms around the world - made her one of the best-known women of the Victorian era. Born Eliza Gilbert, daughter of British and Irish parents, she transformed herself into an aristocratic Spanish dancer, carrying on an audacious masquerade that took her to Europe, America, and Australia and attracting admirers and scandal wherever she went. When she died in 1861 at age forty, her obituary appeared in papers around the world. Yet her true story has always been obscured by the web of lies that she herself constructed. This absorbing and entertaining biography of Lola Montez is the first to reveal the facts of her incredible life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lola Montez 1820-1861 boasted of being the subject of more biographies than any other living woman. Seymour, a lawyer who credits his winnings on the Jeopardy! TV show for giving him time to research this detailed study, claims to have written the only accurate account of the woman Richard Wagner called a "demonic being." King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who threw away his kingdom for her, was only one of many men who became obsessed with Lola. Born in Ireland as Eliza Gilbert, raised in India both her father and her stepfather were soldiers, married as a teenager to a friend of her mother, she left her husband after several love affairs and ran off to Spain, emerging as an exotic dancer named Lola. She took London, Paris and Munich by storm, charmed Lizst and became the mistress of Ludwig. The latter was so lavish in his infatuation and she-now the countess of Landsfeld-so outrageous in her behavior that the public outcry resulted in his abdication. Later, after being charged with bigamy in England, Lola came to America, where she found new fame first as a dancer, then as an actress and finally as a lecturer. Seymour is a droning writer who treats both large and small matters with the same evenhanded tone, but the details are here seemingly all of them, right down to Ludwig's foot fetish, and it is a jim-dandy of a story. In the end, Lola found religion, devoted herself to good works and, when she died, was buried in Brooklyn. Photos. Apr.
Library Journal
Lola Montez made up her name, her life, and her career. Born in 1821 to Anglo-Irish parents as Eliza Gilbert, Lola left a disastrous marriage and fell into an affair that left her original name tarnished. "Reborn" as Spanish noblewoman and dancer Lola Montez, she went on to travel Europe and conquer, among others, Franz Liszt and King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She died in America at the age of 40 of complications of a stroke and pneumonia, leaving behind a bizarre tangle of truth, half-truth, and lies about her adventures. It is this tangle that author Seymour set himself to unravel over a period of four years of research. A lawyer and independent scholar, Seymour has obviously devoted himself to a person of particular personal interest. Since no thorough biography of Montez has been done in over 20 years and since all previous works relied perhaps too heavily on Montez's version of her life, Seymour's work fills the gap by providing the definitive biography of yet another Victorian woman see also Mary Lobell's Rebel Heart: The Scandalous Life of Jane Digby, LJ 10/15/95 who was definitely not Victorian in her actions. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.-Katherine E. Gillen, Luke Air Force Base Lib., Goodyear, Ariz.
Donna Seaman
Lola Montez 182061 was beautiful, outrageous, fearless, and a magnet for scandal. Undaunted by the maze of lies Montez left in her wake, Seymour has succeeded in chronicling her extraordinary and endlessly fascinating life story, one that puts fiction to shame, with great verve. Montez was born Eliza Gilbert, raised in India, and educated in England. To escape from her mother, she made an impulsive, ill-advised first marriage and then, casting all propriety aside, conducted a very public adulterous affair. Shrewd and intrepid if thoroughly besmirched, Montez realized that the stage was her only possible refuge, so she transformed herself into a Spanish dancer and hit the road, performing in Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and Munich, where she embarked on the most notorious chapter of her defiant life by becoming the mistress of King Ludwig I. Their contentious affair earned Montez the title of countess, but it literally caused riots and led to Ludwig's abdication of the throne. Forced into exile, she never lacked for lovers or nerve and eventually worked her way across the U.S. and Australia. Montez takes our breath away with her audacity, unbridled passion, and capacity for intrigue and seduction. To Seymour, we say "Bravo!"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300063479
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.53 (h) x 1.45 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2007

    Fascinating biography

    One of the most captivating biographies I have ever read, and whose subject is a most extraordinary woman who battled against the conventions of society, lost and won, and finally died. It's an amazing attempt to piece together the life of a woman who did not want her history known. Love her, hate her, or both. She is still an absolutely fascinating, and sadly almost forgotten, historical character.

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