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Mata Hari: Dancer, Lover, Spy

It is 100 years since the infamous dancer and ‘femme fatale’ Mata Hari was executed in France for passing secrets to the Germans during WW1. But was she really guilty?

It is 100 years since the exotic dancer and legendary ‘femme fatale’ Mata Hari was executed by a French firing squad for passing secrets to the Germans during World War One. She was described at the time as the ‘greatest woman spy of the century’. But many now see Mata Hari as a convenient scapegoat, condemned merely for her unconventional lifestyle.

Bridget Kendall discusses the myths and realities surrounding women in espionage with Julie Wheelwright, programme director of non-fiction writing at City, University of London, and author of ‘The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage’; Tammy Proctor, Professor of History at Utah State University and author of ‘Female Intelligence. Women and Espionage in the First World War’; and Hanneke Boonstra, a Dutch journalist who is writing an official blog about Mata Hari as part of this year’s centenary commemorations in the Netherlands.

(Photo: Mata Hari. Credit: Getty Images)

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