17 January 1861: Lola Montez - the most scandalous women out of Ireland died on this day.

Catalpast

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17 January 1861: Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld died on this day. But to the World in which she lived she was universally known as ‘Lola Montez’ - dancer and courtesan and companion of the rich and famous in India, Europe, America and Australia.

Her life began as the daughter of a British Officer in Ireland circa 1820. She claimed to be from County Limerick but her birth cert says she was born in County Sligo in 1821. She was baptized at St Peter's Church in Liverpool on 16 February 1823, while her family was enroute to her father's post in India. Shortly after their arrival in India, Edward Gilbert died of cholera.

Her mother married again and it was decided that Eliza would be sent to boarding school in England. She attended a series of educational establishments in England for young ladies but while intelligent it was noticed that Miss Eliza was a very wilful young woman with a mind of her own. On one occasion, she stuck flowers into the wig of an elderly man during a church service; on another, she ran through the streets naked...or so Legend has it.

In 1837, 16-year-old Eliza eloped with Lieutenant Thomas James, and they married. The couple separated five years later. In Calcutta and she became a professional dancer under a stage name. This is where her career as a Sex Symbol really took off and made her name. She returned to London to continue her stage career and had affairs with numerous men of wealth and talent. She appears to have spent some months in Spain to master the arts of that Country’s dancing technique. On return she passed herself off as ‘Lola Montez -Spanish Dancer’. After performing in various European capitals, she settled in Paris, where she was accepted in the rather Bohemian literary society of the time, being acquainted with Alexandre Dumas with whom she was rumoured to have had a dalliance. She is said to have also had an affair with the famous pianist/composer Franz Liszt.

Her really big break came in 1846 when King Ludwig of Bavaria - who had an eye for the Ladies- fell for her. Today I saw Lola Montez dance. I am bewitched. In this Spanish woman [SIC] alone have I found love and life! (Ludwig's letters). The rumour was, at the time they met, Ludwig had asked her in public if her bosom was real, to which her response was to tear off enough of her garments to prove that it was.

Her arrogant and temperamental ways made her unpopular with the locals but the King was madly in love with her and made her Countess of Landsfeld on his next birthday, 25 August 1847. Along with her title, he granted her a large annuity. But in early 1848 a series of Revolutions began to sweep across Europe and Ludwig was overthrown. Lola was nearly lynched but she kept her demeanour before the mob and sailed through them with her head held high. Her aplomb probably saved her life and she made it out of Bavaria alive but penniless.

She returned to London via Switzerland and then another marriage to a wealthy British Army officer George Heald. The Healds resided for a time in France and Spain, but within two years, the tempestuous relationship was in tatters, and George reportedly drowned. She then set off to seek her Fortune in the USA.

From 1851 to 1853, she performed as a dancer and actress in the eastern United States, one of her offerings being a play called Lola Montez in Bavaria. In May 1853, she arrived at San Francisco. Her performances there created a sensation. She married Patrick Hull, a local newspaperman, in July but her marriage soon failed; a doctor named as co-respondent in the divorce suit brought against her was shortly after murdered.

Next came Australia which took by Storm - basically by upping her act into even more erotic gyrations on the stage.
In September 1855 she performed her erotic Spider Dance at the Theatre Royal in Melbourne, raising her skirts so high that the audience could see she wore no underclothing at all. Next day, The Argus thundered that her performance was 'utterly subversive to all ideas of public morality'. Respectable families ceased to attend the theatre, which began to show heavy losses.'
Michael Cannon, Melbourne After the Gold Rush

But her life on the road and in various beds began to catch up with her. She began to noticeably age and decided to try her luck once again in America. She went back there in 1856 but her best days were behind her.

However in the late 1850's she returned on a triumphant tour to Ireland with a lecture at Dublin's Rotundo Rooms (now the Ambassador). The announcement of her Dublin lecture created a degree of interest unparalleled. The platform was regularly thronged by admirers giving Madame Montez barely space to stand.

She then returned back to New York where she spent her time helping fallen women and regretting her own fall from grace:

How many years of my life had been sacrificed to Satan and my own love of sin! I dare not think of the past. I have only lived for my passions. What would I not give to have my terrible experience given as an awful warning to such natures as my own!
http://www.rte.ie/tv/hiddenhistory/hernamewaslola.html

In November 1859, the Philadelphia Express reported that Lola Montez was:

"living very quietly up town, and doesn't have much to do with the world's people. Some of her old friends, the Bohemians, now and then drop in to have a little chat with her, and though she talks beautifully of her present feelings and way of life, she generally, by way of parenthesis, takes out her little tobacco pouch and makes a cigarette or two for self and friend, and then falls back upon old times with decided gusto and effect. But she doesn't tell anybody what she's going to do."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lola_Montez#cite_note-23

By then she was showing the effects of possibly syphilis and her body began to waste away. She died at the age of 39 on 17 January 1861. She is buried in Green Wood Cemetery in New York City where her tombstone states: Mrs. Eliza Gilbert / Died 17 January 1861.

Her name has featured in many novels and biographies and Lola Montez has two lakes (an upper and lower) named after her in the Tahoe National Forest USA. There is also a mountain named in her honour, Mount Lola. At 9,148 feet, it is the highest point in Nevada County, California.
 
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Telstar 62

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Haven't seen it - but I believe 'Lola Montes' ( 1955 ) by Max Ophuls
is a film worth seeing....
 

Lumpy Talbot

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In fairness she did well considering those were the days before air miles.
 
O

Oscurito

Chris Montez was her great-grandson. #Fact.

[video=youtube;zC_Xsr3jFYg]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC_Xsr3jFYg[/video]
 

Dr Pat

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There is a scene in the novel 'Hija de la fortuna' ('Daughter of Fortune') by Isabel Allende where Lola makes a grand entrance to adoring crowds in San Francisco. Allende is not particularly favourable in her description of ''an Irishwoman, a b*stard of common stock who passed herself off as a noble Spanish ballerina and actress'' who ''danced like a goose and had nothing of an actress but excessive vanity'' but whose ''name invoked licentious images of great seductresses..''
 
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between the bridges

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I had it on a vinyl single back in the late 70s.

God alone knows where it is now.
Lol, I think he means a link to the fact he's her great grandson...
 

GDPR

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You know the funniest thing, she has a look of whatshername, Go-On-Go-On-Go_on from Father Ted? I mean the daft housekeeper.



However, she really was about as Irish as Daniel Day Lewis - the immortal quote *I knew Dan before he was Irish* :)

She was a typical product of the Raj in India.
 

between the bridges

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Jaysus eagle, somehow moi just knew ye'd be an expert...
 

Catalpast

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You know the funniest thing, she has a look of whatshername, Go-On-Go-On-Go_on from Father Ted? I mean the daft housekeeper.



However, she really was about as Irish as Daniel Day Lewis - the immortal quote *I knew Dan before he was Irish* :)

She was a typical product of the Raj in India.
She was born on the Emerald Isle

- she was Irish by birth

- and temperament it would seem!
 

Half Nelson

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This could have been written with her in mind -

[video=youtube;NKR2n-G-wdM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKR2n-G-wdM[/video]
 

JacquesHughes

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George McDonald Fraser remembered her and gave her a prominent role in the second Flashman novel, 'Royal Flash'- hilarious too.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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The upward rise of Liz Gilbert:

The Dictionary of National Biography fills in some of Catapast's headline post. To summarise:

17 February 1821: Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert born at Grange, county Sligo, daughter of ensign Edward Gilbert of the 25th Foot and Eliza Oliver (the illegitimate daughter of Charles Silver Oliver MP and Mary Green). Eliza's dates are given as "c.1805-1875", so that makes her — by my count— a mother at barely sixteen.

Charles Silver Oliver (c.1763-1817), of Inchera, co. Limerick turns up in the History of Parliament. He, too, had a military background with the cavalry and dragoons. Oliver succeeded his father in the last Irish parliament, as a client of Lord Clare, and edged his brother-in-law aside for the Westminster seat after 1801.

22 September 1823: death of Edward Gilbert, then with the 44th Foot, at Dinajpur, with his wife and daughter. The widow Eliza immediately took up with and married Lieutenant Patrick Craigie, an officer with the "19th native infantry".

In late 1826 the daughter Elizabeth (therefore aet. about 5 years), was sent back to Blighty and lodged with Craigie's family at Montrose.

By the autumn of 1826 (so aet. about 7 years) she is at boarding school in Bath, where she stays until the spring of 1837 (by now aet. 16) when Mum returns and carts her back to India. "Lola Montez" gave a later account that the mother planned to marry her off to an older man; but our feisty Elizabeth preferred an entanglement with 30-yr old Lieutenant Thomas James of the "21st native infantry", whom she had met on the passage out to India.

23 July 1837: Thomas James and Elizabeth Gilbert married at Kilbeggan; and the following year the couple returned to India.

3 October 1840: Mrs Elizabeth James, having dispensed with her husband in India, sailed from Calcutta. On the voyage home she began an affair with a nephew of the Duke of Richmond, Lieut George Lennox of the 4th Madras cavalry. This prompted the deserted husband, still in India, to sue for divorce.

15 December 1842: a decree of divorce entered by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Court of Arches (at that time, divorce fell under canon law) with the stipulation that neither party might remarry.

Elizabeth James, now femme sole, sought means to support herself. Fanny Kelly's acting school in Soho suggested she'd be better as a dancer, so our heroine betook herself to Cadiz, to learn enough Spanish dance and language to re-emerge as "Lola Montez".

3 June 1843: now the attachment of the Earl of Malmesbury, "Lola Montez" debuted at Her Majesty's Theatre to dance a tarantella. The theatre director, Benjamin Lumley, was informed that "Lola" was a fraud and actually the infamous adulteress, Mrs James, and he terminated the engagement forthwith.

After that, Lola Montez exported herself to Germany and the Royal Theatre in Dresden. From there to Berlin, and a command performance before Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Tsar Nicholas I at the Neues Palais at Potsdam.

By now Lola Montez was getting ideas above her station. She assaulted with a riding whip the policeman who tried to prevent her entering the royal presences at a troop review.

14 November 1843: In Warsaw she took on the chief of police (who also ran the theatre), denouncing him from the stage, and prompting a Polish patriotic riot against the Russian overlords. She was deported back to Prussia. The notorious Lola Montez was now in demand, and toured the main cities of Germany.

29 February 1844: she had inveigled Liszt (whom she had pursued) to escort her to Dresden, and there she met with Wagner, who rejected her forthwith. Lola introduced Liszt to Hans von Bülow (then just 14-years old), who would become Liszt's son-in-law. The affair with Liszt lasted all of a fortnight, and they parted amicably — Lola to Paris with various letters of introduction.

27 March 1844: Lola appeared at the Paris Opéra. Her theatrics by casting a garter into the audience didn't work with the Parisians, and it seems Lola managed only two or three appearances before deciding she had better prospects as une grande horizontale.

7 March 1845: Lola was by now mistress of Alexandre Henri Dujarier, well-heeled owner of La Presse. He arranged her a dancing engagement at the Théâtre de la Porte St Martin, before promptly being killed in a duel.

August 1845: Lola turns up to see Liszt unveil a statue of Beethoven at Bonn. From there to Baden-Baden, where she offended polite society by exposing the dagger in her stocking top.

March 1846: in Paris to make a small sensation at the trial over Dujarier's killing. Then on for a tour of the bedrooms of Belgian and German spa towns.

5 October 1846: solicits an engagement at the Royal Theatre, Munich. This would be her main event — so a useful moment to pause for breath (and deal with some real business).

[In our next enthralling instalment ...]
 
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RasherHash

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You know the funniest thing, she has a look of whatshername, Go-On-Go-On-Go_on from Father Ted? I mean the daft housekeeper.



However, she really was about as Irish as Daniel Day Lewis - the immortal quote *I knew Dan before he was Irish* :)

She was a typical product of the Raj in India.
At least she was born here, unlike most of the Republic of England soccer team :)
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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Re-reading post #17, I'm having second thoughts:

There is, I see, an alternative tale that our heroine was born in Limerick around 1818. The 1821 date is supported by a christening at Grange: otherwise she was born to a barely-teenage mother. The mother, and her mother were both illegitimate: but two generations back we do find a part-Spanish origins for our heroine.

At the age of sixteen our "Lola"-to-be arrived back in India. I see that the arranged husband, a "rich and gouty old gentleman of 60 years", was Judge Sir Abraham Lumley of the Indian Supreme Court. The subsequent elopement with Lt. James caused a split between "Lola"-to-be and her mother: there is a suggestion this was in large part because the mother had set eyes on the man herself.

I am delighted to see JacquesHughes (#14) and Catalpast (#15) are also students of the great GMF. As I recall, some of the Flashman Papers acknowledge TCD library as the source of his research.

Royal Flash is conceived in two parts: 1842-3 and 1847-8. This gives Flashman the chance to encounter Lola in different episodes. He meets her first by invading her coach, where she is with the young Otto von Bismarck. When she prefers von Bismarck to Flashy, he feels sufficiently narked to seek revenge. So:
I've described how I met Rosanna James and Otto, but beyond a paragraph in The Times announcing her divorce from Captain James towards the end of the year, I didn't hear of her again for months. As for Bismarck, it was a few years before I ran into him again, and then it was too soon.
Then Flashman is able to "expose" Lola Montez as the scandalous Mrs James. He does so by prompting Lord Ranelagh:
... when Lola came on for her second dance, which was even more tempestuous than the first, he made a great show of examining her through his glasses. Everyone else was doing the same, of course, in the hope that her bodice would burst, which it seemed likely to do at any moment, but when the applause broke out, wilder than ever, he kept his glasses glued to his eyes, and when she had gone he was seen to be frowning in a very puzzled way. This was all leading up to the denoument, of course, and when she bounced on, snapping her fan, for the third time, I heard him mutter to his nearest neighbour

"You chaps keep your eyes on me. I'll give the word, mind, and then we'll see some fun."

She swirled through the dance, showing splendid amounts of her thighs, and gliding about sinuously while peeping over her fan, and at the finish there was a perfect torrent of clapping and shouting, with bouquets plopping down on to the stage and chaps standing up and clapping wildly. She smiled now, for the first time, bowing and blowing kisses before the curtain, and then suddenly, from our box there was a great hissing in unison, at which the applause faltered and died away. She turned to stare furiously in our direction, and as the hissing rose louder than ever there were angry shouts and cries from the rest of the theatre. People craned to see what the row was about, and then Ranelagh climbs to his feet, an imposing figure with his black beard and elegant togs, and cries out, very distinctly:

"Why, this is a proper swindle, ladies and gentlemen! That woman isn't Lola Montez. She's an Irish girl, Betsy James!"

There was a second's silence, and then a tremendous hullabaloo. The hissing started again, with cries of "Fraud!" and "Impostor!", the applause began and sputtered out, and angry cat-calls and boos sounded from the gallery. In a moment the whole mood of the theatre had changed; taking their cut from Ranelagh and his toadies, they began to howl her down; a few coins clattered on the stage; the conductor, gaping at the audience with his mouth open, suddenly flung down his baton and stamped out; and then the whole place was in a frenzy, stamping and calling for their money back, and shouting to her angrily to get back to the bogs of Donegal.
I'm assuming that GMF is using Horace Wyndham's biography of The Magnificent Montez as his prime source. In Wyndham's version, Ranelagh's motive is that he was scorned by Lola.

Irrelevant, but — as far as I can see — the Ranelagh peers (family name, Jones) took their name from Dublin 6, rather than vice-versa.

Meanwhile — wait for it! — back to the main narrative.
 
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