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Radio Theater

The Richest Woman in the Western World
Mini-series performed by the Jefferson Radio Theater company

Portrait of Eliza Jumel
The Richest Woman in the Western World Portrait of Eliza Jumel at the time Charles Dickens visited her in New York. She was bringing up her niece, training her in the feminine wiles with a boy for practice. Eliza inspired Dickens to write Great Expectations, but she was far from the jilted spinster Dickens imagined. The cobweb festooned dining room she proudly displayed to him preserved the memory of the dinner party she gave to Joseph Bonaparte.

Born in a brothel in Providence, Rhode Island circa 1776, Eliza Jumel, nee Betsy Bowen) arrived in New York City as the unwilling temptress in a blackmail scheme – from which no less a person that Aaron Burr freed her.  Leaving a brief acting career, she married wealthy French wine importer, Stephen Jumel and went on to nearly rescue Napoleon after Waterloo, cornering the New York City real estate market which indeed made her the richest woman in the western world, then, in her 90th year raising her own army to make herself Empress of Mexico. And it’s all true.