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Author @ the Library: La Belle Créole: Rediscovering the life of a Cuban-born star of 19th century Parisian society – Mercedes Santa Cruz, Comtesse Merlin


Monday, September 29, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

Program Locations:

Mid-Manhattan Library (Map and directions)
Fully accessible to wheelchairs

The   M i d - M a n h a t t a n   L i b r a r y    in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month welcomes 

Alina García-Lapuerta 

presenting an illustrated talk on her book

La Belle Créole Rediscovering  the Life of a  Cuban-born Star  of 19th Century  Parisian Society  Mercedes Santa Cruz,  Comtesse Merlin

The adventurous woman nicknamed La Belle Créole is brought to life in this illustrated lecture through the full use of her memoirs, contemporary accounts, and her intimate letters. The fascinating María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, also known as Mercedes, and later the Comtesse Merlin, was a Cuban-born aristocrat who was years ahead of her time as a writer, a socialite, a salon host, and a participant in the Cuban slavery debate. Raised in Cuba and shipped off to live with her socialite mother in Spain at the age of 13, Mercedes triumphed over the political chaos chat blanketed Europe in the Napoleonic days, by charming aristocrats from all sides with her exotic beauty and singing voice. She married General Merlin in Napoleon’s army and discussed painting with Francisco de Goya.  In Paris she hosted the city’s premier musical salon where Liszt, Rossini, and great divas of the day performed for Rothschilds, Balzac, and royalty. Celebrated as one of the greatest amateur sopranos of her day, Mercedes also achieved fame as a writer. Her memoirs and travel writings introduced European audiences to 19th-century Cuban society and contributed to the debate over slavery. Mercedes has recently been rediscovered as Cuba’s earliest female author and one who deserves a place in the canon of Latin American literature. 

Hermes Mallea, author of Great Houses of Havana will introduce Alina Garcia-Lapuerta and the program.

About the presenter:

Alina García-Lapuerta, born in Havana, holds degrees in international economics from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and International relations from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and worked for a number of years in banking. Now based in London with her Spanish-American husband and their two children, she spends considerable time in South Florida.   She is a member of Biographers International Organization and the Biographers’ Club UK. She is currently researching New York-born Consuelo Yznaga, Duchess of Manchester, and her Cuban-American family in the Gilded Age. She has recently collaborated on an upcoming Smithsonian Channel documentary. 


Elevators access the 6th floor after 6 p.m.
All programs are FREE and subject to last-minute change or cancellation.

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 Find out what else is occurring at Mid-Manhattan here:  September Events Calendar 2014.pdf


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