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  • John Murray

Waxing Mythical

Kate Berridge

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

From the shadow of the guillotine to the glare of fame in Victorian London - how Madame Tussaud became the first great female entrepreneur

Marie Tussaud led a remarkable life and with grit and audacity she overcame reversals of fortune to build an extraordinary spectacle.

Of lowly birth, Marie became apprentice to a charismatic Paris showman who taught her wax modelling. They lived among a colourful cast of 'Italian singers, pastry cooks, restaurant keepers, marionettes, acrobats, giants, dwarves, ferocious beasts'. In her memoir she also claimed friendship with royals and revolutionaries including Marie Antoinette and Voltaire. But, as a born entrepreneur, did Marie's flair for publicity extend to moulding her own story

After the Revolution, she came to England and took her show on the road. She pursued the punishing lifestyle of the travelling show for years and secured a lasting reputation in the Dickensian world of 19th century popular entertainment.

More than a biography, this captivating cultural history plunges the reader into the escapist delights of canine cabaret, living skeletons, phantasmagoria and waxworks. It reveals a truth that Madame Tussaud harnessed from the outset - the appeal of glamour and gore is enduring and universal.

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Praise for Waxing Mythical

  • Spectacular and spellbinding' - John Carey, Sunday Times

  • Excellent ... Kate Berridge goes beyond the bounds of the conventional 'life-and-times' biography.... Here, the background of 'the times' is painted with as much skill as the spot-lit figure in the foreground ... shrewd and myth-debunking.' - John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph

  • An immensely stylish book: well researched, witty, perceptive and provocative - Daily Telegraph

  • Sparkly, entertaining, crammed with intriguing details, this cultural history reveals Madam Tussaud as canny, tough as old boots and with a knack for riding the storm' - Independent on Sunday

  • 'An immensely comic and rich account' - Irish Times

  • Waxing Mythical is great fun its heady mix of glitz and fore captures the magic of Madame Tussaud s waxworks and the mysterious businesswoman who created them - Sarah Howard , Times Literary Supplement

  • Engaging - Jeremy Lewis, The Sunday Times

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