Marie Tussaud led a remarkable life and with grit and audacity she overcame reversals of fortune to build an extraordinary spectacle. Of lowly birth, Marie became apprentice to a charismatic Paris showman who taught her wax modelling. They lived among a colourful cast of 'Italian singers, pastry cooks, restaurant keepers, marionettes, acrobats, giants, dwarves, ferocious beasts'. In her memoir she also claimed friendship with royals and revolutionaries including Marie Antoinette and Voltaire. But, as a born entrepreneur, did Marie's flair for publicity extend to moulding her own story? After the Revolution, she came to England and took her show on the road. She pursued the punishing lifestyle of the travelling show for years and secured a lasting reputation in the Dickensian world of 19th century popular entertainment. More than a biography, this captivating cultural history plunges the reader into the escapist delights of canine cabaret, living skeletons, phantasmagoria and waxworks. It reveals a truth that Madame Tussaud harnessed from the outset - the appeal of glamour and gore is enduring and universal.