The California Adventures of Europe's Notorious Courtesan
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: The Arthur H. Clark Company
276 Pages | 6 x 9 | 21 b&w illus.
This is the remarkable biography of that one woman whose California story has become legend.
The California Gold Rush had just passed it's peak-and so had the thirty-five year old Irish-woman when she first appeared in San Francisco. But Lola Montez still had great appeal; she retained a surfeit of overwhelming beauty, a cocky spirit and a quick wit, and she was well-known in the world at large for the distinguished male scalps she had collected, and for her scandalous antics all across Europe.
San Francisco, Sacramento, Marysville and Grass Valley played host to her temper, wit and grace, and received in the bargain a mine of gossip and scandal for their press. Lola ran her course through California's theatre circuit, always maintaining an air of importance and inviting passionate, if mixed, reviews. Quickly known, her path crossed with Alonzo Delano, John Sutter, John Southwick, Dr. David Gorman ("Yankee") Robinson, Gilmore Meredith, and others.
The few years Lola spent in northern California engendered a whole host of stories to which the passing of time has lent widespread credence. Some say that she came as the principal stockholder of Grass Valley's famous Empire Mine, and plotted with southern rebels tomake California a slave state with Lola as Empress. Others claim that she shocked a prim old Grass Valley minister by coming, uninvited, to dance before him in his parlor, that she might demonstrate how proper and tasteful was her art.
With the exception of Murrieta, more exaggerated and dubious history has been written about Lola Montez than any other historical character in California. Through extensive research of contemporary newspapers, genealogical records and other fresh sources, Varley presents the most balanced and accurate story of Lola's life, without glossing over her warts-the intense sexuality, her probable contraction of syphilis, and her incessant deceit.
This is the most definitive study ever offered of Lola Montez's western adventures-a stunning nineteenth century beauty who dominated and manipulated the social circles with which her life became entwined, and who added much needed glamour to California in the years following the Gold Rush.