Belle Brezing: American Magdalene
by Doug Tattershall


Belle Brezing may be obtained from your local bookstore or from on-line vendors such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Belle Brezing: 
American Magdalene

 ISBN  978-1-936138-68-5  $14.00.
Paperback. Numerous photographs and more than 160 citations of historical documents and sources.



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Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Dr
Nicholasville, KY 40356

Belle Brezing is perhaps the most famous madam in the history of the United States. When author Margaret Mitchell needed a hardscrabble woman to serve as confidante to Rhett Butler, her husband told her about Belle Brezing, the Victorian madam of a famous brothel in Lexington, Kentucky. Brezing entered Mitchell’s novel as Belle Watling, but the real Belle’s life story is as dramatic as anything found in the pages of Gone With The Wind. Brezing was born illegitimate, raised in poverty in a violent home, and at age fifteen with a baby in her arms was homeless when her door was padlocked by the landlord after her mother’s funeral. From this desperate childhood, Brezing became rich and famous, operating what Time magazine called “the most orderly of disorderly houses.” Those attending the city's famous horse races helped make her brothel known nationwide. Brezing was known as someone who distributed much of her wealth to needy folks out the side door of her famous house and for raising prostitution to the level of haute couture. By the time Brezing died in 1940, decades of local folklore and the success of Gone With The Wind, both book and movie, helped generate a massive crowd at her estate auction. She has been the subject of historic preservation movements and theatrical plays and has had her name on a light beer, a gay bar, a racehorse, and an annual charity bed race. But despite the iconic and bawdy image, her story is a more human one. The visits of her doctor, university book collectors, the city’s only female police officer, and her priest offer glimpses into the years of seclusion at the end of her life, revealing how she reconciled her sorrowful childhood and her raucous career.