I have found the most interesting woman on my spelunk into the Internet. She calls herself Lola Montez, but her real name is Eliza Rosanna Gilbert. She lived almost two hundred years ago: from 1821 to 1861. While many of the women I know from this time period – especially my family- are pious and centered on their role in life as wives and mothers, she challenges the norm of the time: she has many lovers, travels extensively, gets involved in politics, writes books, is a professional entertainer and basically does what she wants.
Her early life possibly set the pattern for her future relationships. She was born in February 17, 1821 in Grange, County Sligo Ireland. Her father died of cholera in India where he was stationed when she was only one, and her nineteen year old mother spent very little time procuring a new husband for herself: Captain Patrick Craigie
The young Eliza seems to have been hot-headed and temperamental. She was sent to Montrose Scotland, at the early age of five to her step father’s father, for further educational training. Some accounts say that at his time she ran through the streets naked, and put flowers in the wig of a man in church (there are stranger things a little girl can do I bet). She only lasted eight months in this location. By the age of ten, she was shipped to her step-father’s sister who ran a school in Monkwearmouth England. This residency only lasted a year. She was then sent to a boarding school for five years.
By the time she was sixteen, her mother returned to Britain, with the intention of marrying her daughter to an older man of good status, Sir Abraham Lumley who was a judge in the Supreme Court in India. This was the beginning of her scandalous history, for rather than following her family’s wishes, she ran off with one of her mother’s admirers, Lt. Thomas James, who had accompanied her from India.
The marriage was possibly one of her longest commitments, lasting ten years. She later claimed that she left due to combinations of physical violence, alcohol and infidelity on his part. Stationed in India, Eliza left for England, only to have a torrid love affair with an officer on the ship named Lennox. Her husband used this infidelity as grounds for divorce.
The affair lasted for a few months, which left Eliza disgraced by decent society, and at odds regarding her future career. Rather than let this situation get the better of her, she used what nature had given her: her beauty. She had dark skin and hair, a clear complexion and piercingly blue eyes. Eliza left for Spain, learned how to flamenco dance and returned six months later with the stage name Maria Dolores de Porris y Montez- or in short- Lola Montez.
This is only a beginning of her adventurous and troubling life, and part 1 of my blog. She will tour the globe, write many books, and her love affair with a king will start a revolution.