Mata Hari, c1908

Mata Hari, c1908

Image courtesy of Gallica Digital Library

Mata Hari, a Dutch hat-maker’s daughter, was executed for espionage after a secret trial during the darkest days of the First World War. Dr Julie Wheelwright will unpick the myths surrounding her.

This event is part of the National Army Museum’s regular Daytime Talks series.

Mata Hari, the stage name of Margaretha Zelle, has become a by-word for female betrayal. After her execution by the French in October 1917, she was held responsible for the deaths of 50,000 Allied men and was portrayed as an immoral woman who traded sex for classified intelligence.

Dr Julie Wheelwright will talk about her research into Mata Hari, revealing how she was a useful scapegoat for the French at a time when losses on the Western Front were high and civilian morality reaching new lows. Dr Wheelwright will also explore how and why fantasies grew up around Mata Hari and will shed light on the role of women in the intelligence services during the First World War and beyond.

Dr Julie Wheelwright is a senior lecturer and programme director of the UK’s only dedicated Master’s degree in non-fiction writing at City University London. She has been writing and lecturing about Mata Hari and the role of women in espionage since 1992 with her most recent work appearing in the book ‘Representation and Memory’.

Events are subject to change. Please check the website closer to the date.



Entry to Daytime Talks is free. However, places must be reserved in advance by contacting our customer services team on 020 7730 0717.

Venue details


Royal Marsden Education and Conference Centre
Stewart’s Grove

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