A Tangled Web

Well I’ve not posted here for a couple of months because my biography of Mata Hari, ‘A Tangled Web’ has just been published.  I have been busy with a few final details working with the great team at The History Press and preparing for my ‘meet the author’ launch event at the Imperial War Museum London on Saturday the 29th July between 11am and 1pm and between 2pm and 4pm.


Mata Hari has been a fascinating character to research and write about. A dancer, a courtesan and a spy, she was beguiling and oozed sex appeal. But she was also spoilt and maddening and  working through archives from Paris and London was no easy task.  She was an untrained dancer who won the ‘war of the tights’ beating others such as Isadora Duncan.  She had lovers galore and was counted among the best of La Grande Horizontale. Then of course she met and fell in love with a young Russian officer and declared she would give up all her other lovers just for him.  But for all the fun and the lovers the Great War had broken out and her world was never the same. Embroiled in espionage, she became entaged in a web of lies and fantasies from which there was no escape and for which she paid the ultimate price.

Mata Hari Cover

Sunday Mail, 16/07/17


The Times, 17/07/17



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7 Responses to A Tangled Web

  1. Thomas Cross says:

    Hi. I’m sorry to bother you. I am a historian. My name is Thomas Cross. I am collecting information on Mata Hari’s first trip to Paris in December 1915. Please tell me the name of the ship on which Mata Hari returned from Lisbon to Amsterdam in early 1916? Historians very often ignore her first trip. It’s wrong. Mata Hari’s first trip to Paris is the key. The British traveler writer informed the British authorities in Madrid of the date of departure of Mata Hari to Lisbon on 24 January 1916….
    Please tell me the name of the ship on which Mata Hari returned from Lisbon to Amsterdam in early 1916? Please help me. Hope for your answer. Thank you in advance.

    Best regards
    Thomas Cross


    • mwcraig11 says:

      Dear Thomas, unfortunately I don’t know the name of the ship Mata Hari travelled on. In the British Metropolitan Police files and in the French SHAT files she does not name the ship, on the one occasion she was asked she could not remember, and no shipping line manifest has ever come to light with her name on it a far as I am aware. If it was a British ship, or a ship sailing under British colours, as is likely in 1916 sailing through British waters, there is a good chance the manifest has been destroyed. A lot of archive material including ship manifests and logs from 1900 – 1930 were destroyed in the Luftwaffe bombing of London during the second world war. Regards Mary


  2. Thomas Cross says:

    Hello. Thanks for your reply. No it was a Dutch steamer. I conducted my investigation to study the schedule of Dutch steamships that went on the route Amsterdam-South America. On the way to South America and on the way back they visited Vigo Spain and to Lisbon. Most likely it is the steamer Hollandia. He is closest to her date on January 24, 1916.


  3. Thomas Cross says:

    I was really helped in my time. Here are the results of my investigation
    Because of the war, publishing passenger lists was stricktly forbidden and confidential between September 1914 and May 1919. Before and after those dates they indeed were regularly published.

    That lady indeed travelled from Lisbon to Amsterdam and IF she indeed used a passenger liner of Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd we have only the choise between five passenger steamers, being FRISIA, HOLLANDIA, ZEELANDIA, GELRIA and TUBANTIA.

    In January and february 1916 the steamers TUBANTIA, ZEELANDIA an FRISIA were all outward bound from Amsterdam to Buenos Aires.

    Remain HOLLANDIA and GELRIA.

    GELRIA departed 13th of January 1916 from Vigo (north of Spain) and arrived 19th of January 1916 at Amsterdam

    HOLLANDIA departed 29th of January 1916 from Lisboa to Amsterdam and arrived 7th of february 1916 at Amsterdam.


  4. Thomas Cross says:

    Mata Hari physically did not have time to board the steamer Gelria. But the Hollandia steamer fits perfectly. Since the date of her departure to Lisbon on January 24, the steamer Hollandia just fits perfectly!


  5. Thomas Cross says:

    Subsequently, the investigators will accuse Mata Hari of being late for the steamer. And this steamer was sunk. In reality, nothing of the kind happened! Mata Hari herself composed this nonsense. Allegedly the steamer for which she was late was sunk. This subsequently ruined her. Steamer Gelria no one stoked it safely reached Amsterdam 19th of January 1916

    Best regards
    Thomas Cross
    P.S. English channel in December 1915, Mata Hari crossed on the English steamer Arundel. This information must be in English documents!

    Thomas Cross


    • mwcraig11 says:

      Dear Thomas, thanks for this information. I don’t have any confirmation that the SS Arundel was the ship Mata Hari travelled on in Dec 1915 that information is not in the Met police files although the SS Hollandia is mentioned for her journey of December 1916 so as you say she may have also travelled on the Hollandia in January 2016. Regards Mary


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