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Montez, Lola (1821-1861) The Arts of Beauty; or, Secrets of a Lady's Toilet. With Hints to Gentlemen on the Art of Fascinating.
New York: Dick & Fitzgerald Publishers [W.H. Tinson, Stereotyper; E.O. Jenkins, Printer], .
First American edition, 12mo, half-title present, 132 pages, twelve pages of ads; bound in full contemporary publisher's red cloth, with blind stamped boards. gilt spine and front board titles, some surface grime to binding, in a very good to excellent state of preservation; some foxing to contents, pencil signature to half-title, 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 in.
Montez's factual biography reads like fiction. She was born Eliza Rosanna Gilbert in County Limerick, and spent her early years between India and the U.K. She was dancing professionally at the age of sixteen. Montez had affairs with Franz Liszt, Alexander Dumas, and others. As a performer, she most likely engaged in sex work as well; in polite society she was described as a courtesan. Her power in this position reaches its apex in Munich, where she wielded great influence over King Ludwig I of Bavaria as his mistress. Between 1846 and 1848, her role in the court caused rather profound political upheaval, ultimately resulting in Ludwig's abdication from the throne. Marriages, affairs, and controversy came and went in subsequent years as Montez traveled to Australia and the United States, performing and dancing professionally. Montez is buried in Brooklyn, where she succumbed to syphilis in January of 1861. Aspects of her story have been portrayed in many period and modern films and novels, and she may be the inspiration for Conan Doyle's Irene Adler. At the time of her death, Lola Montez was thirty-nine years old.