In 1919, an autobiography appeared that scandalised polite American society. Chronicling the life and times of a sex worker who went by the pseudonym Madeleine Blair, Madeleine: An Autobiography took to task the puritanical forces that condemned her work and her industry, and laid on the table the story of her life as a so called ‘soiled dove’. In her frank and engaging accounts, she outlines the many ups and downs that lead her into the life of a ‘painted lady’, but adamantly refuses to let anyone view her as a victim. From her time in Montana and Chicago, to her work over the border in Canada, Blair traverses many a bawdy-house of ill-repute, always striving to champion the legitimacy of her profession and to shed light on the world of debauchery in which she moved.
Come with us to the plush parlour rooms and smoking dens of the American north, as we delve into the life of this savvy business woman and entrepreneur, Madeleine Blair.
McMaster, Lindsey. Working Girls in the West: Representations of Wage-Earning Women. UBC Press, 2007.
Morgan, Lael. Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder, and the Wild Women of Montana’s Frontier. Chicago Review Press, 2011.