Originally called Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (1876–1917) was born in the Netherlands, the daughter of a metalworker who operated a hat shop. During the first part of her life, she was always on the move. She was living with her uncle in Den Haag when she met her later husbandof Scottish origin, Rudolf MacLeod, with whom she moved to Dutch East-India (today Indonesia). Their marriage soon deteriorated, while Mata Hari became an actress on the island of Java. Later, in Paris, she could be seen as a dancer and courtesan: she performed exotic dances learned in the Far East before the audience while scantily dressed, and the press described her as an Indian princess who had landeda European husband. In 1905, she became the mistress of the millionaire French industry magnate, Émile Étienne Guimet.
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