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Arthur Lloyd's 'Mrs. Mary Plucker Sparrowtail or Beautiful For Ever'

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Arthur Lloyd's 'Mrs. Mary Plucker Sparrowtail' or 'Beautiful For Ever.'

Above - Arthur Lloyd's 'Mrs. Mary Plucker Sparrowtail' or 'Beautiful For Ever'

Arthur Lloyd's 'Mrs. Mary Plucker Sparrowtail or Beautiful For Ever' - Courtesy the Jones / Beeching Collection.

Above - Lyrics for Arthur Lloyd's 'Mrs. Mary Plucker Sparrowtail' or 'Beautiful For Ever' - Courtesy the Jones / Beeching Collection.

In 1868, Arthur Lloyd took the factual events of the sensational court case involving Madame Sarah Rachel Leverson, a complete charlatan who boasted she could make any woman, no matter how plain, beautiful for ever, and her victim, the silly simpering Mrs Borrodaile, and turned them into a music hall song, ‘Mrs Mary Plucker Sparrowtail’. Madame Rachel’s ‘pamphlet’ on beauty was entitled, Beautiful for Ever, and the playwright, Glyn Jones, has taken these true events and written a play 'Beautiful for Ever' (published by Samuel French) around them. - More details about the events and Glyn Jones’ all female cast play can be found on his web site: www.glynjones.net.

BEAUTIFUL FOR EVER - This great sensational song is now being sung by the author (Arthur Lloyd) with screams of laughter, each evening at his provincial concerts. Free for 18 stamps. - D'alcorn, 351 Oxford Street. - From the Telegraph 26th of September 1868 - Kindly sent in by Helen Rappaport.

Helen has also written a book 'Beautiful for Ever' on Madame Rachel, who this song refers to, Madame Rachel had everything, a Mayfair address, the title of ‘purveyor to Her Majesty the Queen’, and a catalogue of exotic creams and potions. Her clientele were aristocratic, rich, and most importantly, gullible.

They came in their droves to her shop in New Bond Street, lured by the promise of eternal beauty, but what they found there was something far darker – a con-woman and fraudster who made a career out of lies, treachery, and the false hopes of her victims.

Beautiful for Ever is the true story of a woman who found both fame and infamy peddling products which claimed almost magical powers of ‘restoration and preservation. It has all the elements of a thrillingly scandalous tale - blackmail, fraud, and high-profile trials; stolen names and false promises; love affairs, suicide and bankruptcy. And at the centre of it all, the domineering figure of Madame Rachel herself.

Helen Rappaport's own website can be found here.

Helen has also discovered that the published date for this song is out by at least two years as she has found notices for it being performed in 1868 as below:

Edinburgh Evening Courant 24 September 1868 - Front Page

'Beautiful For Ever'
Music Hall
Saturday Evening concerts

Saturday 26 September
For One night Only
The Great Arthur Lloyd
and his Great Concert Company
in Their Entertainment of Two Hours Fun

Mr Arthur Lloyd will sing a selection from his popular songs, and for the first time in Edinburgh, one founded on a Recent Celebrated Case, entitled

'Beautiful For Ever'

Edinburgh Evening Courant 8th October 1868 - Front Page

'Last Appearance of Arthur Lloyd in Edinburgh this Season' ... singing eight of his most popular songs, including 'Beautiful For Ever.'

Another visitor to the site, Henry Sutliff, who is currently researching the family of Captain John Owen Tucker Edwardes, has recently sent in the following details pertaining to Mary Emma Tucker Edwardes who is featured in the song.

Captain John Owen Tucker Edwardes (1808-1891), was the eldest son of William Tucker Edwardes (1784-1858) who was Sheriff for Pembrokeshire. His wife was Anna Martha Philipps (1788-1876), daughter of John George Philipps, M. P.

Captain Edwardes's younger sister (11 children in this family) was Mary Emma Tucker Edwardes (born Jun 1818 - died 1890) and she is the same as the object of the song "Mary Plucker Sparrowtail or Beautiful For Ever". I do not have a date for her marriage, but she married Colonel Alfred Borrodaile (died 17 May 1861) and was the mother of two daughters by him: Florence Emma Borrodaile (1844-1847) and Florence Emma Anna Borrodaile (1848-1934). The latter never married and the Colonel Borrdaile and the elder daughter are buried in Agram, Bangalore. Courtesy Henry Sutliff.

Another of my site's visitors, Nigel Searle, has recently pointed out that Mrs Borrodaile's full name was actually Mrs Mary Tucker Borrodaile making the title of the song a less than subtle play on the unfortunate lady's full name.

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