From disenchanted, favorite child she escaped to become a hopeful, teenage bride. From business-savvy show woman and courtesan she fell to become a convicted spy. From birth to death, Mata Hari’s life was defined by transformation.
Born Margaretha Zelle in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, her girlhood was characterized by wealth and extravagance, until her spendthrift father went bankrupt, throwing the family into poverty. She was pawned-off to relatives following her parents’ divorce and mother’s death, and trained to become a kindergarten teacher. But, after her first brush with scandal, she was again sent packing.
Now residing in the Hague, Margaretha met Rudolph MacLeod, her future husband. Engaged after just 6 days, the pair became acquainted via a matrimonial advertisement he’d taken out in a newspaper. Yet, despite his aristocratic pedigree, Rudolph was no gentleman. His drinking and womanizing, and Margaretha’s free-spending, overtaxed the marriage, and they eventually divorced.
Margaretha took-off to Paris, where she became the toast of the town, having transformed herself into the performer Mata Hari. Here, she became ensnared in a web of deception and treachery which ultimately caused her destruction. Was Mata Hari a double-agent, working for Germany while deceiving France? Or just a superficial woman that accepted money from the wrong men?
To learn more about Mata Hari’s supposed espionage activities, check-out these History, Bitches approved biographies:
The History Bitch
Podcaster, tea aficionado, Anglophile, 'Game of Thrones' enthusiast.