Mother, dancer, wife, spy: the real Mata Hari

When MacLeod is remembered, it is never as a mother. But, to coincide with the 2017 centenary of her death, a Dutch publisher has released an astonishing cache of her letters, which reveal the hitherto unseen maternal side of her character. Edited by Lourens Oldersma, they chronicle her struggle to establish a new life with her daughter after leaving an abusive marriage. Without financial support, however, she faced the brutal choice of poverty or taking, as she described it, “the road to perdition”.


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