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Minnie Rae. Caption on the back of the 1871 photo says, ""Mary Simpson, age 10 or 11. She has been known as Mrs. Berry for at least two years. She is four months pregnant." (Historical image censored by FANDOM policy).

Minnie Rae aka Mary Simpson was a preteen prostitute named "The Little Countess" by Emperor Norton I. She was likely a model for Wendy of Peter Pan and Wendy. She may have been known by several different names.

Minnie Rae (childhood)[]


According to the Encyclopedia of World Knowledge, "Minnie Rae” was born to a woman known only as Lacey and to a shoe worker, possibly named Adam, in 1860. Birth took place somewhere in the New England area of the United States of America, probably in or near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While Minnie Rae claimed she was born on February 22, it’s likely this date is inaccurate. It was probably taken from either George Washington’s birthday or from the New England shoe workers’ strike which began on that date. Her father had apparently participated in the 1860 strike.

Minnie Rae’s father died two years later in 1862. It’s unknown whether this was during travels to claim land made available under the Homestead Act (this is what our sources indicate), or if his death occurred during a Civil War battle with the Confederacy. In any case, Minnie Rae grew up in the new state of California where she was raised by her mother. Lacey also raised a son named Adam who was born in 1862, possibly while the family was traveling. It’s not know if Adam’s father ever saw his son.

Little is known of the family’s next seven years, except that Lacey was apparently very resourceful, and raised her children near the city of San Francisco, California, with little help. Minnie Rae was smart and inquisitive, and enjoyed caring for her younger brother and for the family’s animals. She especially liked milking cows. She wasn’t enthusiastic about planting, weeding and reaping crops, but readily learned to read and perform basic arithmetic.

Unfortunately, in 1868 or 1869 Lacey contacted scarlet fever and possibly rheumatic fever. She died in 1869, leaving Minnie Rae as an orphan. The fate of Adam is unknown.


To earn a living, Minnie Rae turned to prostitution at the age of nine. She knew St. Emperor Norton, and may have met Samuel Langhorne Clemens aka St. Mark Twain. Emperor Norton declared her "The Little Countess."

Mary Simpson[]


At around the age of 9, she traveled to the United Kingdom, possibly with a Mr. Simpson. She had developed physically at an early age, and by age 10 or 11 was visibly pregnant. Ironically, this made her services more popular. The only known surviving photo of her was taken during her pregnancy in 1871. According to information written on the back of the photo, "Mary Simpson, age 10 or 11. She has been known as Mrs. Berry for at least two years. She is four months pregnant." In 1872 she gave birth to her only known child, Bartholomew.

The Autobiography of Minnie Rae[]

The Autobiography of Minnie Rae, possibly subtitled My Life as a Child Prostitute, was published in in the late 1800s. This may actually have been titled, The Autobiography of Mary Simpson. While supposedly by Minnie Rae, it was likely written by a journalist who interviewed her from 1871 to 1872. Maggie McNiell aka The Honest Courtesan suspects the journalist was fooled as to her real age. McNiell suspects Minnie Rae aka Minnie Ray Simpson said she was younger than she was to attract clients.

Mrs. Barrie and Wendy[]

Peter wendy

Original 1911 book cover for Peter and Wendy by J.M. Barrie.

While the back of her photo said she called herself "Mrs. Berry," this may actually have been "Mrs. Barrie." She apparently met James Barrie, who as J.M. Barrie would write Peter and Wendy. In the original story, Peter Pan is a peeping Tom who spies through Wendy's bedroom window. She comes out in her sleepwear and tries to seduce him into kissing her in her bedroom.

Many have pointed to Margaret Henley as the one who called J.M. Barrie her "fwendy wendy," possible source for the name "Wendy." But as the girl died while five years old, it's highly unlikely she was the model for the adolescent seductress who played both Peter's mother and wife. Minnie Rae, as Mary Simpson, apparently played James mother and wife.

Alan Moore wrote the porno-graphic novel Lost Girls about Wendy of Neverland, Alice of Wonderland, and Dorothy of Oz. In that novel, he reverses the original naïve Peter Pan and the seductive Wendy to make Wendy a proper English girl and Peter a prostitute. However, Moore claimed he did not know about Minnie Rae when he wrote the book, but "found the notion fascinating."

Minnie Wakeman[]

According to the Encyclopedia of San Francisco, she may also have been known as Minnie Wakeman. When Emperor Norton was 56 years ago, he apparently believed she was 16, although if the age given on the back of her photo is accurate, she would have been 14. He described her as "a tall, beautiful creature who had lovely dark blue eyes with fringed lashes and long curls that were the admiration of the whole school."

He wrote her a note, saying, "My dear Miss Wakeman. In arranging for my Empress, I shall be delighted if you will permit me to make use of your name. Should you be willing, please let me know, but keep your own secret. It is safer that way, I think." He signed it - "Your devoted loving friend, The Emperor." If Minnie Wakeman was Minnie Rae, she may have returned to San Francisco after traveling to the United Kingdom. "Keep your own secret....it is safer that way" may have meant her keeping the secret that she had worked as a prostitute. Minnie declined his offer.

Mary Rose Simpson[]

It is possible that Minnie Rae traveled to Australia where she was adopted by Robert Simpson and Morgan Mary Simpson of Omeo, Australia. Mary Rose Simpson was listed as an only child born in 1860.


Minna Street in San Francisco was apparently named after Minnie Rae. As prostitutes were virtually the only women in San Francisco during the Gold Rush years, it was not uncommon for them to be highly honored.

Minnie Rae was declared a Discordian Saint in 2006 by the Discordian Division of the Ek-sen-triks CluborGuild, Mythics of Harmonia, and W.E.T.D.I.A.P.E.R.S. (West End Trash Discordians, Illuminated Adepts, Popes Erisian, Reality Simulators).

Reverend Loveshade of the D & D of the ECG claims Minnie Rae as an ancestor on his mother's side.

Some members of the Church of the SubGenius claim she was a great-grandmother of Connie Marsh Dobbs.

BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit, was originally proposed by Emperor Norton. Some claim it was named after Bartholomew, Minnie Rae's son.

"The Simpsons" character of Bart Simpson could have been named after her son.  But the character's creater Matt Groening claimed "Bart" was chosen as an anagram of "brat."

At least two prostitutes claimed to be the reincarnated Minnie Rae (Minnie Rae believed in reincarnation, and claimed to the Whore of Babylon). These were Fannie Mae in the Los Angeles area, and Kitty who testified in regard to the investigation of Kerry Thornley and the John F. Kennedy assassination. A neo-Burlesque performer in the United Kingdom bills herself as Miss Minnie Rae.[1]

Minnie Rae, along with Emperor Norton, was named to the Order of the Pineapple in 2022.

External links[]