Happy Monday Everyone!
Today I have a special treat for you:)
Christine Trent, Author of the beautiful novel: TheQueen’s Dollmaker, is here to talk about the famous historical figure, Madame Tussaud. The famous artist will be part of her next novel- which is a sequel to TheQueen’s Dollmaker..
I am fascinated by this historical figure- Read on to learn what Christine has to say. Her research is impeccable and so interesting!
Why is Madame Tussaud’s in London?
I bet many of you have heard of (or even visited) one of the several Madame Tussaud locations around the world. You may have even visited the original location in London. You might even know that Marie Grosholtz Tussaud was nearly a victim of the French Revolution. But do you know why it is that she left her home country to try and establish her wax exhibition in the land of France’s greatest enemy, England?
Tussaud owned a fairly successful wax exhibition in Paris. However, changing tastes in post-Revolutionary France meant that the show began waning in public popularity. An opportunity presented itself in one Paul de Philipsthal, a fellow showman who convinced her to combine her wax exhibition with his Phantasmagoria show and put them both on display in England. (Details about what a Phantasmagoria is in a future post!) Together, he promised, they’d get very wealthy by providing unusual entertainments to the English.
Tussaud left her mother, husband, and her younger son behind in 1802, in her endeavor to “strike it rich” in Great Britain. Her plan was to travel for a couple of years and return when her “purse was full.” She bundled up her older son, Joseph, who was only four years old at the time, and headed over to England with about 40 pieces of her collection.
She would never set foot in France again.
Philipsthal was a bit of a charlatan. He convinced Tussaud to sign an extremely uneven contract with him, one in which he would take half of her profits until she could pay off the loan he gave her to get established in Great Britain. In return, he would pay to have her figures shipped around, and would also pay for advertising of both shows. Unfortunately, Philipsthal didn’t live up to his end of the bargain. Tussaud was stuck with paying for everything, AND repaying her loan, AND giving Philipsthal half of her profits.
Who could get out from under that mountain of expenses?
What was worse is that he ordered her from city to city to set up her show for temporary stays, usually timed with some sort of event or festival occurring in that city. In just a few years, she moved to London, Liverpool, York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenock, Waterford, Dublin, Cork, Belfast, and many other cities, frequently returning to them over and over. In each location, she had to nearly single-handedly set up and dismantle her show, with only Joseph to help. Philipsthal typically went on to the next city before the hard work of moving the show began. Because of her tight purse strings, Tussaud minimized the use of any hired help, and would do nearly all of the work herself.
But Tussaud was a consummate perfectionist, businesswoman, and theatrical genius. With the help of a famous lawyer of the time, she finally managed to cut her ties with Philipsthal and continue on with her traveling show alone for the next 25 years. Her son Joseph grew up with the show and eventually became an expert waxworker himself. Her younger son, Francis, joined his brother and mother after becoming an adult, and the three of them ran the exhibition harmoniously together for many years.
In 1835, after traveling Great Britain relentlessly for more than 30 years, Tussaud and her sons brought the exhibition to a permanent stop at the Bazaar on Baker Street in London. Ironically, it was not a conscious decision to create a fixed location. However, both boys had married and had their own families, and Tussaud herself was now a 74-year old woman, making such a wandering lifestyle very impractical for all of them.
And so, with only one more move to a nearby location on Marylebone Road (which had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1925), the wax exhibition has been in basically the same place for 175 years. How many businesses can claim to have lasted that long?
A final note: Waxworking must be a very healthy activity. Madame Tussaud lived to the ripe old age of 89, dying in 1850. She was active with the exhibition until nearly her last breath. Her family took over the show, but at the death of her grandson, Bernard, the show was bought by a company that has grown it into the multi-site entertainment complex you see today.
A youthful Madame Tussaud:
A wax representation of Madame Tussaud in her later years:
THANK YOU so much Christine for your Amazing Post!!!
And now, for an absolutely Irresistible GIVEAWAY...
Christine is graciously giving away a Personlized copy of TheQueen’s Dollmaker- Open Worldwide!!!
1 Chance: Please comnment on Christine's Post and leave me your email address.
2 Chances every time you twitter or blog about this Giveaway- Come back with link please.
5 Chances for posting this on your sidebar linking it back to here.
5 Chances for new followers- (if you're already a follower, you get this automatically).
Good Luck to All!
By the way, The Queen's Dollmaker is an excellent choice for my French Oh-La-La Challenge. Come join, if you haven't already:)