Lola Montez

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Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld (23 June 1818 or 17 February 1821 – 17 January 1861), better known by the stage name Lola Montez, was an Irish-born dancer and actress who became famous as a "Spanish dancer", courtesan and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who made her Countess of Landsfeld.

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Early life

As with many other aspects of her life, discrepant reports of her birth have been published. She was allegedly born in Limerick on 23 June 1818; while other reports insist that she was born in Grange, County Sligo on 17 February 1821.[1]Alternatively she was baptised at St Peter's Church in Liverpool on 16 February 1823.

Lola's mother was Eliza (or Elizabeth) Oliver, an illegitimate daughter of Charles Silver Oliver, of Castle Oliver in County Limerick, Ireland. Lola's mother was 15 when she gave birth to her, a year after she married Lola's father, Ensign Edward Gilbert of the 25th Regiment.

In 1823 the Gilberts moved to India, where his regiment had been dispatched. But, shortly after arrival, he died of cholera. Her mother, who was now 19, married another officer, Lieutenant Patrick Craigie, the following year. Craigie quickly came to care for Lola, but her spoilt and half-wild ways concerned him greatly.

Eventually, it was agreed she would be sent back to Britain to attend school, staying with Craigie's father in Montrose, Scotland, at first. But the "queer, wayward little Indian girl" quickly became known as a mischief-maker. On one occasion, she stuck flowers into the wig of an elderly man during a church service, on another, she ran through the streets naked.

At the age of ten, Lola was moved on again–this time to Sunderland, England. When her stepfather's older sister, Catherine Rae, set up a boarding school in Monkwearmouth with her husband, Lola joined them to continue her education.[2]

Lola obviously made an impression on her teachers, as a Mr Grant, who taught art at the little school, was later to recall her as "an elegant and graceful child." He described her as having eyes of "excessive beauty", an "orientally dark" complexion and an air of "haughty ease". But he also revealed, "The violence and obstinacy of her temper gave too frequent cause of painful anxiety to her good kind aunt."

Lola's determination and temper were to become her trademarks. The little girl's stay in Sunderland lasted only a year, as she was then transferred to shower for a more "sophisticated" education.

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