Aimée Crocker was an American heiress, Bohemian, world traveler, and author. She wrote several books, including a memoir, and also was a talented painter. But above all, Aimée Crocker was known for her eccentric lifestyle, which included traveling the world, collecting jewelry, and throwing lavish parties.
Aimée Crocker was born in Sacramento, California, in 1864 to Edwin and Margaret Crocker, the founders of the Crocker Art Museum. Edwin B. Crocker was a railroad tycoon and art collector. The Crockers were "exceedingly wealthy" as Aimée (christened "Amy") put it, and her inheritance was estimated to be about $10 million. Aimée used her wealth to finance her freedom when most women did not have this luxury.
Aimée Crocker is best known for her adventures in the Far East, extravagant parties and collections of husbands and lovers, adopted children, Buddhas, tattoos, and snakes. Crocker was often called the "Queen of Bohemia." She was part of the cultural and social life of San Francisco and Paris.
Her memoir And I'd Do It Again was published in 1937. Crocker reflects on her life, travels, and experiences as a socialite, writer, and heiress. The book provides a unique and personal perspective on the cultural and social scene of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
And I'd Do It Again includes the story of her life: a terrifying train wreck during her honeymoon in California; a chilling escape along a river in the jungle; a kidnapping by a Dyak prince; a lesbian double suicide; a poisoning in Hong Kong; an attempted murder by knife-throwing servants in Shanghai; the search for Kaivalya (Liberation) in the Great Yogi Bhojwada Cave in Pune, India; and two strange sensual/sexual experiences, one with an Indian boa constrictor and the other with a Chinese violin in the "House of the Ivory Panels."
Throughout her memoir, Aimée also defied reductive stereotypes on the futility and obtuseness of racism she witnessed and the societal disapproval she was a constant target of.
Aimée Crocker was a unique individual whose independence, courage, and self-expression were unusual for women of her era.
Photo credit: www.crockerart.org