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    Lola Montez, c. 1846 - c. 1861, courtesy of State Library of Victoria.

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    Illuminated historiated inititial "t" showing Lola Montez and Erle Seekamp fighting, 1856, courtesy of State Library of Victoria.

Montez, Lola (1818 - 1861)

Courtesan and Flamboyant entertainer

‘Lola Montez’, born in Ireland and christened Maria Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, had firmly established her racy Spanish persona by the time she toured the Australian goldfields in 1855. Renowned for her risqué dances and liaisons with famous men (including writer Alexander Dumas and the aging King Ludwig of Bavaria), her arrival in colonial Australia caused quite a stir. Her notorious ‘Spider Dance’ (which involved the coquettish lifting of clothing in desperate efforts to extract said spider) was denounced by most of the press as immoral. But her performances proved very popular with digger audiences and she played to packed houses. When editor Harry Seekamp attacked her reputation in the Ballarat Times, Lola publicly horsewhipped him for slandering her character and so ensured herself a place in popular memory.

Caitlin Mahar

Cannon, Michael, 'Montez, Lola (1818 - 1861)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974. Details
Seymour, B., Lola Montez: a life, Yale University Press, 1996. Details