Caraboo: The Servant Girl Princess : The Real Story of the Grand Hoax

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9781566561792: Caraboo: The Servant Girl Princess : The Real Story of the Grand Hoax

In 1817, an amazing story enthralled the journals and newspapers of the time and was the talk of high society. A beautiful, young foreign princess was found wandering the English countryside. She spoke no English but called herself Caraboo. She was given shelter by Jane Worrall, a wealthy banker's wife, at the mansion of Knole near Bristol which soon became the spot of a pilgrimage for those who wished to pay this exotic creature a visit. However, as the storm of publicity grew, it soon emerged that the lovely princess was only a poor servant girl named Mary Baker who played the masquerade to avoid being sent to the workhouse as a vagrant. This book reveals through letters and diaries, all firmly based on documents written at the time of the event itself, who Caraboo really was, how Mary Baker carried out her fabulous hoax and what her life was like both before and after her brief reign as the Princess Caraboo of Javasu. The 1994 film "Caraboo" stars Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Part fairy tale, part analysis of human gullibility, this story, which inspired an eponymous movie, is the history of Mary Baker, a servant girl who fooled 19th-century England into believing she was a princess from the mysterious country of Javasu. Found wandering the English countryside, strangely dressed and speaking no English, Mary was rescued from the workhouse by the wealthy Elizabeth Worrall. Mrs. Worrall was convinced that no one with such ``a delicate, sure manner'' could be anything but royalty. Using Mrs. Worrall's diary and letters and Mary's confessions (both expanded to some extent by the authors, though exactly what has been added is, unfortunately, unclear), the story reveals how this clever con woman convinced scholars as well as laymen of the truth of her preposterous tale. The more outlandish her behavior (bizarre religious rituals and fencing with men), the more people were persuaded. Mary's confessions, which deal with her life up until she began her game, reveal a restless, selfish person who resorted to the hoax in the end because of desperation and laziness. The story works especially well as a study of the gullibility of 19th-century English royalty and its willingness to believe the absurd before the rational.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Raison, Jennifer, Goldie, Michael
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Raison, Jennifer; Goldie, Michael
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