A Life in WaxBook - 2006
Millions have visited the museums that bear her name, yet few know much about Madame Tussaud. A celebrated artist, she had both a ringside seat at and a cameo role in the French Revolution. This intelligent, pragmatic businesswoman has also had an extraordinary impact on contemporary culture, planting the seed of our obsession with celebrity.
In Madame Tussaud Kate Berridge tells this fascinating woman's complete story for the first time, drawing upon a wealth of sources including Tussaud's memoirs and historical archives. It is a grand-scale success story--how with sheer graft and grit a woman born in 1761 to an eighteen-year-old cook overcame extraordinary reversals of fortune to build the first and most enduring worldwide brand identified simply by reference to its founder's name: Madame Tussaud's.
Central to her success was her status as a victim and survivor of one of the most tumultuous times in history; her grizzly relics both captivated her audience and reinforced her own version of her life story. Her memoirs placed claims of friendships with royals and revolutionaries--including Marie Antoinette and Marat--alongside personal horrors, most famously how she was forced to make death masks from the guillotine-fresh heads of former friends. But as a born entrepreneur did she extend her flair for publicity to molding her own story?
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Halloween may be over, but November’s falling leaves, chill in the air and early arriving darkness are enough to keep that creepy feeling around for a while. I know I let out an audible gasp after stumbling across the 1888 catalog for Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London in our pamphlet collection. Not only are life-size effigies of the famous cringe-worthy in general, the grisly role sculpt… (more)