War Paint: Madame Helena Rubinstein and Miss Elizabeth Arden : Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry

By Lindy Woodhead | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOUR
RISE OF A RIVAL
1839–1907

AS HELENA RUBINSTEIN SET sail for Europe in 1905, the woman who would become her greatest rival was struggling to find a pathway out of Toronto. Romantic myths abound about Elizabeth Arden’s parents. It’s said her mother grew up in Cornwall, eloping with a young Scottish jockey she met at an Easter fair in Polruan. Legend has it the two of them went to Canada to start a new life and that their daughter, christened Florence Nightingale after one of her mother’s heroines, ‘grew up with a whinny in her ear’ from the many horses her father kept on their farm in Woodbridge, outside Toronto.

Willie Graham may or may not have been a jockey in Britain, but his future wife Susan Tadd certainly never met him at a point-to-point in the Cornish countryside, for the simple reason that she was born and grew up in Liverpool. They didn’t even marry in England. Susan Tadd emigrated to Toronto with her mother and stepfather in about 1863 when she was fifteen years old and married William Graham in York County, Toronto, on 11 July 1872. It is unlikely a woman of nearly twenty-five would be forced to elope, even if her mother did not approve of her husband. Susan’s parents, however, Samuel and Jane Pearce Tadd, did have strong connections with Cornwall, particularly Fowey and Polruan.

The boats moored in Fowey’s picturesque harbour today are more likely to be the yachts of the leisured rich, but throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Fowey, Bodinnick and Polruan were home to the wealthy boatbuilders and master mariners of the time. These ports were the base for their business of transporting goods, in particular local china clay or imported coal, their schooners often crewed by two, if not three, generations of the

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War Paint: Madame Helena Rubinstein and Miss Elizabeth Arden : Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry
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