The Cosmetic Huckster

History Imagined

This week’s Victorian character impresses as more than just colorful. Madame Rachel, notorious con artist and flamboyant celebrity, made a fortune off the vanity and gullibility of high society. She may have been an actual madam as well. If she lived today she might well be found as a purveyor of health and beauty products to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Madame Rachel Madame Rachel

At the height of her fame, Madame Rachel served clients from a salon on Bond Street, where she welcomed countesses and the wives of wealthy businessmen. She also attracted the lonely and the desperate. Her precipitous fall, when it came, exposed her clients as fools even as it exposed the ugly anti-Semitic undercurrents prevalent in  England.

Madame didn’t start out in high society. Born Sarah Rachel Russell in London in 1814, she grew up the hard way in London’s East End. She worked as a seller…

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About gailingis

Gail Ingis a tough blonde from Brooklyn, writes history and romance. Gail’s early days began and ended with writing, drawing and music. After graduating from the New York School of Interior Design with a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design and Master’s studies in Architecture and Design Criticism at The New School (Parsons), she worked in interior design and architecture, and founded a school of Interior Design. She resides in Connecticut with her scientist-writer husband. Currently, she sits on Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum Board of Trustees, and serves as the curator of art exhibitions. Prior to her debut as an author, she illustrated a book for Deborah Galiley, "Seeking Paradise" that can be found on Amazon. Also a professional artist, her varied paintings are an extension of her illustration work in design. Gail spent long days and nights dallying in Coney Island, the inspiration for her project of beach and boardwalk scenes. She is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America and a member of American Society of Interior Designers.
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