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:
Also, a heartfelt thank-you to guest co-host Farron. Check-out her book, “Chrysanthemums Over Edo,” a historical fiction set in Meiji Restoration Japan, on Amazon: