Discrepancies concerning the record of Lola Montez

Based on comments from Anne Lore [Lola2Cleo@aol.com]

Date of Birth - Encyclopedia Britannica entry says that she was "Born in Limerick, Ireland, in 1818". Bruce Seymour in his biography, Lola Montez : A Life puts her date of birth on February 17, 1821 in Grange, County Sligo, Ireland.

Bruce Seymour supplied the Britannica with the baptismal information a few years ago, but it still hasn't been updated. The Brit is notorious for leaving in obsolete entries long after general knowledge has advanced past them. Lola is not a terribly important figure to them, after all, so they're not going to bother with it until they've attended to more pressing material, such as current world developments and technological advances.

"There were a number of unprincipled characters who put out "memoirs" and "biographies" of Lola in her lifetime; there was so much speculation about such a colorful figure that people were eager to read the 'real story' and get all the dirt. It was one of these who originated the 1818 birthdate. He claimed to have visited the church where she was baptized and seen documentation; this was entirely fabricated, but the date stuck in people's minds, and once it was literally graven in stone on her grave marker, it seemed a closed issue. Since everyone assumed that she'd lied about her age, this was never really questioned until Bruce Seymour's recent research raised doubts. She certainly did lie-- but not by so many years as that!"

How she died ...

The sources that say she died of stroke are incorrect; they did not go to primary research materials, such as her death certificate. Here are the documented facts: on June 30th, 1860 she suffered a major stroke in New York and was partially paralyzed for some time. In mid-December she was sufficiently recovered to walk (with a slight limp) and went out for a stroll. The weather was, of course, chilly, and Lola's lungs had never been good; she came down with pneumonia. She lingered for nearly a month under kindly care before dying on January 17th.

the name 'Maria Dolores Eliza Rosanna ...

She added the "Maria Dolores" herself after going to Spain and inventing 'Lola Montez'. At times she also swore her true name was "Maria Dolores Porris y Montez", but mostly she stayed with the hybridized Spanish/Irish version, since she did finally settle on admitting that she was born in Ireland and not Spain.

Note on Jerome Krause's heavily fictionalized "biography" in The World According to Jerome:

Persons in search of historical accuracy should be aware that Jerome Krause states his biographies are "fictive... poetic licence has been taken... this work, real and not real, is presented as fiction... while this work is not proper academic history, it does look at those accounts written by historians as its main source and then takes its own fictional direction." In other words, he has simply made up some of his account, such as the absurd bit about her having two grown children at the time of her death.

Lola's "Autobiography" is one source of much of the misinformation about her, being riddled with her own distortions and inventions. In addition, one passage, which she actually included as an example of the printed falsehoods that were being circulated about her, has been widely reprinted as true. In it she quotes an unflattering description given of her when crossing at Panama, detailing her "bold, bad eyes" and masculine dress with "French unmentionables"; she points out that she was not in Panama in the year cited, nor did she make a habit of appearing in men's clothing, and emphatically (and accurately) brands the account a lie. This fact tends to be overlooked by persons looking for a juicy quote about her.However, there were actually a number of Lola impersonators, and this could easily be an account of the appearance of one of these, rather than simply a complete fiction.

The photo used by the Encyclopedia Britannica Lola page is apparently someone else. There are many photos erroneously identified as Lola. Pictures of Spanish-looking women, or women in riding habits holding whips have frequently been palmed off as Lola images; it adds to their value, after all.

Lola Montez (1821-1861)