Bibliophile | ‘Enid’ is the new biography from Robert Wainwright

by Robert Wainwright
Allen & Unwin

Enid’s grandfather Dr Henry Lindeman was a Hunter Valley pioneer in establishing Australia’s wine industry. Her father and his brothers carried on the business, with her father buying hotels to stock Lindeman wines in their cellars.

Enid, born in 1892, was the fifth child after four sons. Her life was one of privilege and competing against her brothers meant that she developed “skills that helped create an independent spirit that drove much of her adult decision-making in a man’s world”.

At almost 6 feet tall, with her mother’s blue-green eyes and her father’s jaw line, Enid always attracted attention. Her incandescent beauty was described by English photographer Cecil Beaton as “a new kind of woman, with attitudes that were dangerous and attractive”.

Just as well I suppose, as the turn of the twentieth century was a time when sons inherited family fortunes and daughters had to secure good marriages. Married off a few weeks after turning 21 to a wealthy shipping magnate, Enid was to bury four husbands, get through two fortunes and attract malicious media gossip throughout her life.

Enid had an incredibly adventurous life – being one of the first people to enter Tutankhamen’s newly discovered tomb in 1922; celebrating the end of World War II at Winston Churchill’s private party; having lunch with King George V and his wife Mary and attending Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier’s wedding.

It is scintillating to read about Enid’s adventures which include her driving an ambulance and hiding allied prisoners during the war, as well as walking a pet cheetah with a diamond collar through Hyde Park, London. She counted amongst her friends Coco Channel, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Frank Sinatra and John F Kennedy.

Not that Enid’s life was without hardship and tragedy. Journalist Robert Wainwright has done extensive research to leave a fascinating record of the Australian socialite who captivated the world with her adventures.

Lezly Herbert

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