the romance of travel

Edward Wortley Montagu (1713 – 1776) was an English author and traveller.

image found here

In spite of Mr Wortley’s incurable habit of travelling, or because of it, he was equally addicted to matrimony, though he was as much a wanderer in this activity as in any other for he married, first a washerwoman, and then, bigamously, Caroline Dormer.

washerwoman found here

Nor did his thirst for domesticity content itself with these two ladies, for he deserted Miss Dormer for a Nubian girl, and, as well, eloped with Miss Ashe. His death took place at Padua in 1776, and he no doubt left several inconsolable widows.

Nubian mummy found at this fascinating site

Louis de Rougemont (1847-1941) was also a traveller, but not quite as adventurous a one as he claimed to be

Louis found here

“De Rougemont” was born Henri Louis Grin in Paris, France. He left home at the age of sixteen. He became a footman to the actress Fanny Kemble, servant to Swiss banker de Mieville in 1870 and butler for the governor of Western Australia, Sir William Robinson. In that job he lasted less than a year.

Fanny Kemble found here

He tried various ventures with very little success. He worked as a doctor, a ‘spirit photographer’ and an inventor. He also married and abandoned a wife in Australia.

spirit photography found here

In 1898 he began to write about his invented adventures in the British periodical “The Wide World Magazine” under the name Louis De Rougemont. He described his alleged exploits in search of pearls and gold in New Guinea and claimed to have spent thirty years living with Indigenous Australians in the Australian outback. He claimed that the tribe with whom he had lived had worshipped him as a god. 

Larapinta Dreaming found here

Various readers expressed disbelief in his tales from the start, for example, claiming that no one can actually ride a turtle. De Rougemont had also claimed to have seen flying wombats. The fact that he could not place his travels on the map aroused suspicion. Readers’ arguments in the pages of London newspaper, the Daily Chronicle, continued for months.

Flying Wombat found here

Rougemont said he could not specify exactly where he had been because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with a syndicate that wanted to exploit the gold he had found in the area. He also refused to talk about Aboriginal languages he had supposedly learned. 

Then it was announced that a certain F.W. Solomon had recognized De Rougemont and identified him as Louis Grin who had presented himself at Solomon’s firm as an entrepreneur. Grin had collected tidbits for his exploits from the Reading Room of the British Library. 

more great libraries here

Grin tried to defend himself by writing a letter to The Daily Chronicle, in which he expressed his consternation that anybody would confuse him with Louis De Rougemont. The Wide World Magazine exploited the situation and prepared a Christmas double issue. Sales of both papers soared. De Rougemont himself disappeared from the public view.

In 1899 Grin travelled to South Africa as a music-hall attraction: ‘The Greatest Liar on Earth'; on a similar 1901 tour of Australia, he was booed from the stage. In July 1906 De Rougemont appeared at the London Hippodrome and successfully demonstrated his turtle-riding skills. During World War I he reappeared as an inventor of a useless meat substitute. He died a poor man in London on 9 June 1921.

turtle riding a jellyfish found here

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40 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wortly and Grin … now there’s a name for a rock band …

  2. All sorts of “odd” things here, not least Thomas Sully’s odd depiction of Fanny Kemble. Perhaps the poor woman had an enormous breast tumour? Or a poor corsetier? Nah! Lousy artist!

    But you have to admire the chap for trying, I suppose.

  3. i can’t think of anything sadder than a useless meat substitute. i imagine the batteries were not included.

    p.s. yes, nurse myra, the photos were mine from hope, kansas, taken only a few weeks ago.

  4. Greatest liar on earth? Now way. In in the USA we have a huge collection of such individuals. They assemble quite regularly to bamboozle all 325 million of us. These characters operate from two entities: the Congress of the United States and the US House of Representatives.

  5. The spirit photography reminded me that there have been a spate of these http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5076012 piccies over here. This is an old article from 2006 in Yankee Land but it’s a great little piccy.

    • Are sure you posted the right link?

  6. Love that car. Really love hat car. Please put an order in for me. We could travel far in that

    • Very cool isn’t it?

  7. That Heidi caricature is amazing. One day….one day. If you get Fluff, and fold and full release in that order, don’t you need to rewash everything?

  8. Ah Louis De Rougemont, finally you’ve done him, you don’t know how many times I kept thinking “I must mention that bloke with his imaginary travels”. Can I please borrow the book?

    The King

    • Your wish is my command Your Majesty

  9. I need the wombat….

    • We’d look good in it wouldn’t we daisyfae?

  10. I wonder if a wombat could be trained to ride a turtle?
    Or if a turtle could be trained to drive a wombat?

  11. I was once in a band called “Useless Meat Substitute.”

  12. The Greatest Liar on Earth would have to be someone whose lies were never detected, so clearly De Rougemont, who aroused so many suspicions, doesn’t fit the bill. And if your lies were never detected you couldn’t call yourself The Greatest Liar on Earth because nobody’s supposed to know you’re a liar. So the title itself is a nonsense.

  13. The incurable genealogist got the better of me.

    On 3 April 1882, as Henri Louis Grien, he married Eliza Jane Ravenscroft at the Presbyterian manse, Newtown; they had seven children.

  14. Another two great lives Nursie. I do wonder what the useless meat substitute was though? Another type of meat?

  15. I was wondering, your man the turtle here, what did the offspring of his mating with a jellyfish look like? I keep seeing Roseanne Barr for some reason.

  16. Rougemont sounds like a baddie from the Pink Panther movies.

  17. Love the pictures accompanying this fascinating little snapshot of lives. Another win, NM! :)

  18. Awe..*sniffle* I wanna footman too. *whining* How do I go about getting one of those? I figure if anyone would know it would be you NM. I love your blog posts but I find I am constantly distracted by your selection of bizarre images and links scattered throughout.

    • Oh good, I love it that some people actually click on the links. Did you look at the libraries? They’re amazing!

  19. “The fact that he could not place his travels on the map aroused suspicion.” Yes. That’s rather suspicious. He did prove he could ride a turtle, though…

  20. If I had believed him for some reason, I’d stop with the wombat story. It’s like seeing pigs fly.

  21. he reappeared as an inventor of a useless meat substitute

    Vibrator?

    No wait, that’s rather useful, isn’t it?

  22. He should have just labelled his ‘travels’ as fiction…

  23. okay, so Wortley doesn’t date or have affairs, he marries. if i were just a tad more masochistic, i could see myself in that same situation. oh, except for the part about me having a brain and knowing better.

  24. Not being from down your way I had to remind myself what a wombat looked like so I could conceptualise a flying version. Apparently they pass cubic faeces. I bet that makes their little eyes water.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wombat

    • Or you could just click me!

  25. Maybe what he invented was a substitute for useless meat.

  26. I’m quite taken with the fact that the guy was booed from the stage in Australia when presenting himself as The Greatest Liar on Earth. Apparently, there are greater liars, or at least more amusing ones.

  27. The “Fluff n’ Fold n’ Full Release” is what got me through College.

    And yet I still didn’t finish!

  28. the turtle riding a jellyfish might be the single most lovely and weird thing I’ve seen weeks

  29. Flying wombats are, of course, real. We just happen to use rockets like any other modern-day marsupial.


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