Mata Hari is one of many fascinating women in history and in honor of Michelle Moran’s Mata Hari’s Last Dance coming out this week I thought she would be a good focus for my first Throwback Thursday.

Mata Hari is the dancer, mistress and spy who gained infamy when she supposedly turned double agent during WW1 and was executed.

She moved to Indonesia when she was barely 19 after answering the ad for a military leader in search of a wife. They had a tumultuous relationship and after nine years and the death of their son, she and her husband parted ways. It was then she decided to re-invent herself and went from Margaretha Geertruida Zelle to Mata Hari, capitalizing on the European fascination with exoticism even though she was a Dutch citizen. She became a dancer and drew from the Indonesian and surrounding cultures to develop new dances, outfits, etc. to entice the Parisian crowds. Eventually she grew less popular and took to making her money in the beds of wealthy men. At some point the French took notice of her and she accepted a position to spy on Germany, but it’s not known for sure what her true intentions were. Some say that she took money from both sides, but never actually spied on anyone, while others believe she was a turncoat who tried to sell out the Allies. She was put to death by firing squad for her supposed crimes, but I would be absolutely fascinated to know what was truly going on.

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