Enid Lindeman was widowed four times. She is pictured in her official portrait for the 1937 coronation of King George VI
If you wanted to sum up the life of Enid Lindeman in a few words then the three nicknames she acquired over her lifetime of adventures would do the trick.
Novelist and neighbour Somerset Maugham twisted her title of Lady Kenmare into Lady Killmore to accommodate rumours that she had killed several if not all of her four husbands.
The Fleet Street press dubbed her the Penniless Peeress because an inheritance from her third husband worth £20million had been stalled and left her broke.
And the caustic-tongued London society hostess Emerald Cunard called her the Stucco Venus, a back-handed compliment for her statuesque but icy beauty.
It’s hard to know where to start and what to leave out of the extraordinary life of a young woman who grew up in the late nineteenth century in Strathfield, then a rustic suburb between Sydney and Penrith.
Men worshipped her and some shunned, would-be lovers allegedly committed suicide. Women stopped to gawk in New York, the casinos of Monte Carlo and in London’s Hyde Park where she sometimes walked a cheetah on a diamond collar.
Enid Lindeman was the dazzling eldest daughter of a well-to-do family who inherited their fortune from Dr Henry Lindeman, an early winemaker in the NSW Hunter Valley. Even aged in her seventies, Enid cut a cool figure, often with a parrot on her shoulder (pictured)
Enid would marry and be widowed four times and lose two great fortunes. She drove ambulances during World War I and hid Allied prisoners from the Nazis in World War II. She is pictured on the day of her wedding to New York businessman Roderick Cameron in 1913
Enid moved into the villa La Fiorentina (pictured) on the French Riviera with her third husband in 1939. There she entertained guests including Grace Kelly, Fred Astaire, Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Coco Channel. In 2012 the home was sold for $US525 million
At the age of twenty-one Enid was married off to a rich New York businessman almost twice her age. By the age of twenty-three she was widowed and a single mother who had inherited a fortune.
Instead of settling back into a life of luxury in Sydney, Enid travelled to Paris and the teeth of the Great War where she drove an ambulance by day and danced by night, sending the officers at British central command into a tizz.
Lord Haig, commander of British forces, was so concerned at the effect on officer morale that he married her off to Fredrick ‘Caviar’ Cavendish, a dashing but older officer with whom she had two more children and spent time in post-war Egypt where she was one of the first people to be taken down the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Roderick Cameron (right) was a wealthy 45-year-old New York bachelor when he arrived in Sydney in 1912 and met 20-year-old Enid Lindeman. Marmaduke Furness, (left) Enid’s third husband, called himself Duke and expected to be treated like one
Enid is pictured with her second husband, Frederick ‘Caviar’ Cavendish. It was an arranged marriage that lasted 14 years until Cavendish died of a brain haemorrhage
Enid was married for the fourth time to gossip columnist and aristocrat Valentine Castlerosse in 1942. The Earl of Kenmare, or ‘Castlerosse’ as he was known, had a title but no money. He would die a year after his marriage to Enid from a heart attack. They are pictured together
In 1933, two years after Caviar had died of a brain haemorrhage, Enid was swept off her feet by Marmaduke Furness, a shipping magnate whose life of luxury included African safaris with a fleet of Rolls Royces and who once sent his private pilot back to Scotland for a case of salmon.
Their’s would be a life of constant travel and excess but Furness, a Viscount, would prove to be a man of darkness whose jealous rages were fuelled by alcohol and drugs.
Enid (far right) stood out in a crowd, this time as a World War I nurse in Paris where she drove a private ambulance by day and danced by night, sending the officers at British central command into a tizz
Enid is pictured in Paris with two admirers. She was popular with British Army officers stationed in the French capital. Eventually, she would be married off Frederick Cavendish to quell the fuss
The marriage was foundering by the summer of 1939. It was at this moment that they bought a mansion on the Cote d’Azur, either from Enid’s winnings from a casino card game or by ‘Duke’, as Furness liked to be called, to apologise to Enid for challenging a man he believed to be flirting with her to a duel.
Enid, by Robert Wainwright, is published by Allen & Unwin and is out now. RRP: $32.99
Either way, La Fiorentina would become the symbol of Enid’s life. In 2012, long after her death, the house was sold for $US525 million, making it the world’s most expensive house.
As war descended just a few weeks after the purchase, the couple decided to stay and not return to the safety of London. Duke became sicker and as the French Riviera, now behind enemy lines, shut down so their life became one of survival. His death in 1940 in a darkened room inside the mansion would cause more controversy that would dog Enid for years to come.
Enid remained in Vichy France and offered the house to the resistance movement as a link in the chain to help escaped Allied servicemen to get into Spain and then home to England, sometimes disguising the men as housemaids.
When the Germans realised what was happening, they forced Enid to flee back to London where, now broke, she would see out the war living off the help of friends and gradually selling her jewellery. Duke’s previous wife would accuse Enid of murder based on late changes he had made to his will which left the lion’s share of the estate to Enid.
Enid was a devoted mother. She is pictured here with Caryll and Pat, her children with second husband Frederick Cavendish, a dashing older military man. The family would spend time in post World War I Egypt where Enid was one of the first people to see Tutankhmun’s tomb
Three years after World War I ended, husband Frederick Cavendish (mounted, second left) was stationed in Egypt. In 1922, thanks to her friendship with Lord Carnarvon, Enid (centre) and son Rory were two of the first people to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb
While she waited Enid married again, this time to an overweight aristocrat and newspaper columnist, Valentine Castlerosse, the Earl of Kenmare in the Irish lakes of Killarney. Castlerosse, as he was known, had a title but no money and Enid had no social position and a fortune-in-waiting. They were the perfect couple.
There was a further complication when Enid, now aged 51, declared she was pregnant. The doubters felt she was lying to protect her title, particularly when barely a year into the marriage Castlerosse, suddenly suffered heart attack and died.
When the Furness estate was finally settled, Enid left England and returned to La Fiorentina where, after restoring the villa to its former glory, she became one of the Riviera’s most famous hostesses.
Greta Garbo learned to swim in the pool at La Fiorentina that overlooked the Italian coastline. Fred Astaire (pictured at the villa) and Ginger Rogers stayed for holidays. Rita Hayworth, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant were all visitors
European royalty, artists and literary luminaries came to party and Hollywood royalty followed soon afterwards. Greta Garbo learned to swim in the pool that overlooked the Italian coastline and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers stayed for holidays.
David Niven lived on one side and Somerset Maugham the other. Marlene Dietrich swanned in for lunch, and Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth and Cary Grant were among those who dined on long, hot summer evenings.
Enid floated in and out of the parties always in flowing gowns but often making appearances just to make the salad dressing. She gambled at the casinos with abandon, often alongside the likes of the Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, the third Aga Khan.
When she wasn’t hosting lavish dinners at La Fiorentina, Enid could usually be found painting, often dressed in her negligee
She travelled widely, mostly with son Rory from her first marriage, and explored Africa and India as well as making frequent trips back to Australia where she explored the Great Barrier Reef before mass tourism as well as central Australia. Her home movies would show her fascination for the natural world as much as her love of luxury.
In the later years of her life she would relocate to Kenya and then South Africa where she and her daughter, Pat, would establish a successful horse stud.
She died in January 1972, three days short of her eighty-first birthday, having lived life with the mantra ‘Never be afraid, never be jealous and never complain when you are ill.’
Enid by Robert Wainwright is published by Allen & Unwin and available now from here. Recommended retail price: $32.99.
Robert Wainwright is the acclaimed author of books including Rose: The unauthorised biography of Rose Hancock Porteous, The Lost Boy, The Killing of Caroline Byrne, Sheila, and Rocky Road.
Enid, now bowed in later life from back problems, leads her namesake Miss Lindeman back to scale after a race win in the early 1970s. She died in January 1972, three days short of her eighty-first birthday