Madame Brussels SLV Display

  • May 2011–May 2012
  • The Changing Face of Victoria
  • Dome Galleries (Level 5)
  • State Library Victoria
  • Swanston Street
  • Melbourne, Victoria
  • Australia

  • Curator: Christine Eid

Madame Brussels quickly was found to be a woman of many friends, and they stood by her; some folks said they had to. For if Madame's tongue once broke loose, there would be divorce summonses flying about Melbourne thick as evening newspapers.

— Truth, 1906

A new display at the State Library Victoria explores the life of Madame Brussels, a brothel owner and resident of Melbourne's Lonsdale Street during the late 19th century.

The Madame ran a thriving business for more than 30 years, patronised by men from high society. At one time she was reputed to have owned eight brothels in the CBD.

Scorned by moral crusaders and vilified by newspapers, her brothel was described as a 'den of debauchery' and 'the lattice-fronted home of illicit pleasure'. Yet it was widely regarded as the grandest brothel in Lonsdale Street.