Sunday, July 29, 2012


    "Madame Tussaud’s is a museum of famous people, or rather of their wax-effigies.  The Royal Family is there (also King Alphonso, somewhat moth-eaten).  Mr. MacDonald’s Ministry, French Presidents, Dickens and Kipling, marshals, Mademoiselle Lenglen, famous murderers of the last century and the souvenirs of Napoleon, such as his socks, belt and hat ; then in a place of dishonor Kaiser Wilhelm and Franz Josef, still looking spruce for his age.   

      Before one particularly effective effigy of a gentlemen in a top-hat I stopped and looked into the catalogue to see who it was ; suddenly the gentlemen with the top-hat moved and walked away ; it was awful.   


     After a while two young ladies looked into the catalogue to see whom I represented.

          At Madame Tussaud’s I made a somewhat unpleasant discovery ; either I am quite incapable of reading human faces, or else physiognomies are deceptive.  So for example I was at first sight attracted by a seated gentleman with a goatee beard, No. 12.  In the catalogue I found : “12.  Thomas Nell Cream, hanged in 1892.  Poisoned Matilda Glover with strychnine.  He was also found guilty of murdering three other women.”  Really, his face is very suspicious.  No. 13, Franz Müller, murdered Mr. Briggs in the train.  H’m.  No. 20, a clean-shaven gentlemen, of almost worthy appearance :  Arthur Devereux, hanged 1905, known as the “trunk murderer,” because he hid the corpses of his victims in trunks.  Horrid.  No. 21 – no, this worthy priest cannot be “Mrs. Dyer, the Reading baby murderess.”

     I now perceive that I have confused the pages of the catalogue, and I am compelled to correct my impressions : the seated gentleman, No. 12, is merely Bernard Shaw ; No. 13 is Louis Blériot, and No. 20 is simply Gugliemo Marconi.

     Never again will I judge people by their faces."

From:  Karel Ĉapek,  "Animals and Famous People" in  "Letters from England," translated by Paul Selver, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1925.


1. HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, exhibited at Madame Tussauds, London.

2.   Mademoiselle Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938), La Divine.

3.  Thomas Neill Cream (1850-92), the Lambeth Poisoner.

4.  Madame Tussauds' waxwork of Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862-1910).  Known as the first murderer caught with the aid of Gugliemo Marconi's wireless as a tool.

5.  Waxwork showing  Louis Blériot (1872-1936), the first aviator to cross the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft.

6. Applying the finishing touches to waxwork of Diana Dors, Madame Tussauds, London.

7.  Robert Evans, producer of The Godfather, Rosemary's Baby, Love Story and Chinatown.  Is it real or is it Memorex?

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