What We Talk About When We Talk About Madame LaLaurie

tumblr_lz7d0zhmml1rp51gpo1_500With the news that Kathy Bates will be playing the sadistic slave torturer Madame LaLaurie on American Horror Story: Coven, let’s investigate who Mme. LaLaurie is, shall we?

Marie Delphine LaLaurie was a thrice-married socialite in New Orleans until a fire broke out in her kitchen in 1834. When the firefighters arrived, they discovered the 70-year-old cook (chained to the stove) had started it in an attempt to commit suicide before being taken to the upstairs room, where, she said, “Anyone who had been taken there, never came back.” So men broke down the door to the room and discovered seven “horribly mutilated” slaves suspended by their necks. When someone confronted Delphine’s husband about this, he said, “Some people had better stay at home rather than come to others’ houses to dictate laws and meddle with other people’s business.”

An angry mob descended upon the house and destroyed everything but the walls. One assumes it was a different mob (4,000 people strong) who eventually stopped by the local jail to gape at the rescued slaves, made available for public viewing.

Delphine? Allegedly she escaped to France somehow, where her gravestone was discovered in 1934. She died in 1842.

(Nicholas Cage bought the house in 2007, by the way.)

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