Madame Tussaud


Some years ago I wrote a short life of the waxworker par excellence, Madame Marie Tussaud, for children. Mme Tussaud lived through, and profited from, the French Revolution, having previously, she claimed, served members of the French Royal Family at Versailles. She became a leading promoter of spectacle and entertainment in the French capital, then emigrated to London where she established her famous wax museum. As well as being a successful female entrepreneur, a businesswoman before such a concept really existed, Tussaud was a pioneer of what we might call in modern parlance the ‘commodification of celebrity’.

Now, at long last, this complex and elusive character – or characters, given her capacity for embellishment and reinvention – has been celebrated, and some at least of the complexities and contradictions in her story unravelled, in a full-length documentary treatment by French director Nina Barbier.

The TV film, in French, is here: