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MATA HARI (1876-1917) Autograph Letter Signed
Name: MATA HARI (1876-1917) Autograph Letter Signed
Stock Status: Sold

  MATA HARI (1876-1917) Autograph Letter Signed
click to see larger image
  MATA HARI (1876-1917) Autograph Letter Signed
click to see larger image


MATA HARI Autograph Letter Signed.

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, known by her stage name Mata Hari. Dutch exotic dancer and WW1 spy.  Executed 1917.

ALS. 4pp.  Victoria Hotel, Amsterdam.  16th May 191[-].  To "Cher Ami" (Dear Friend).

In French.  Translation: "I recall that you were already suffering when I was anchored in Halie, is it still the same story?  We are also having a bad time living on our nerves.  Yes, the ballet is not for now, but suggest it to the Scala.  It is classical and very beautiful, especially since there is music by Couperin of 1730 with an accompaniment of harpsichords or violins.  It is very pretty.  We can exploit it everywhere later.  I am leaving tomorrow to live in La Haye-Niewe Nitleg 16, where I have set up home.  The war is going on too long for me to continue living in the hotel.  It is very expensive and not very comfortable.  Speak to Mingarde, I am sure that it will be of interest to him.  My very best wishes, Your Mata Hari, and good wishes for your health.  It will give me great pleasure to see you when you pass through Holland."

Large 8vo bifolium.  Approx 8.25 x 5.5 inches (21 x 14 cms).  Slight creases.  Filing holes top edge (not touching any text).  Very good condition.

A scarce autograph.  Autograph letters of Mata Hari are destinctly uncommon and this letter, written in a large, clear hand and signed with her stage name is a nice example.

Mata Hari was a remarkable figure in the history of WW1.  She was the daughter of a bankrupt milliner.  She married an army Captain of Scotch descent who was serving n the Dutch East Indies.  Although this brought her some money and social status, her husband was a violent alcoholic and their children contracted syphilis.  The couple later divorced.  She worked as a trick horse rider in a Paris circus and also posed nude as an artist's model.  Mata Hari took up exotic dancing in 1905 and quickly won fame for her promiscuous, flirtatious style.  She was a contemporary of Isadora Duncan and, for a time was considered of equal status as a contemporary dancer.  She travelled in Java and Indonesia, where she studied eastern dancing and took the Malay name Mata Hari, meaning 'Eye of the Day'.  Mata Hari became the long-term mistress of the millionaire industrialist, Emile Guimet.  By the outbreak of the war, Mata Hari was on the decline as a dancer and was, instead known chiefly as a courtesan and had affairs with many high-powered and influential men.  The cultural establishment no longer took her dancing seriously and she was increasingly viewed, not as a free-spirited bohemian, but as a wanton, promiscuous woman and a dangerous seductress. During the war Mata Hari was able to cross borders freely, due to her Dutch citizenship (Holland was a neutral country).  She soon fell under suspicion as a spy and was arrested at least once by the British and questioned in London, at that time she claimed to be aiding the French intelligence services.  In January 1917 an intercepted German telegraph messages from Madrid identified her as the German spy, known as H-21.  Mata Hari was tried for espionage and for causing the deaths of 50,000 allied soldiers.  She denied the charges, saying that all her communications and travels had been only in connection with her dancing.  She was denied a proper defence and was found guilty.  She was executed by firing squad on 15th October 1917.  There was much controversy later about the truth of the accusations against her but in the 1970s German official documents came into the public domain that confirmed that Mata Hari had been working for German Intelligence since the autumn of 1915.  There remains some suggestion, however, that Mata Hari was, in fact, a double agent.

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