- About the Book
- Author Bios
- Book Club
- Lizzie’s Corner
Beauty Icon Elizabeth Grant Shares her Personal Life Story of
Battling the Odds and Winning
Elizabeth Grant: My Life – My Story
As told to and written by: Marion Witz and Carol Krenz
Toronto, ON, - It’s not often that a first hand account memoir comes about that spans nine decades, hundreds of thousands of miles, and delves into the deepest hardships as Elizabeth Grant: My Life – My Story does. Yet ultimately, this memoir leads to the type of success story that is most often saved for the movies and fictional storybooks. Elizabeth Grant’s tale is the true story of beating the odds, a woman’s determination, and the ability to keep soldiering on to achieve her dreams and goals.
Elizabeth Grant has stood at the helm of her beauty empire for more than sixty years. Her story starts in London, UK in the early 1900’s and follows her through her younger years and a nightmarish childhood. Elizabeth’s life changed in the blink of an eye with an incident that nearly killed her- when a German rocket dropped soundlessly from the sky on a peaceful Sunday in wartime London. The impact and resultant bomb blast damage took her down, damaged her face and rendered her almost deaf in one ear. A young makeup artist at Elstree Studios at the time, she thought herself so repulsively scarred, she could no longer face acting luminaries like Vivien Leigh, Margaret Leighton, and Robert Taylor with any degree of confidence. "I honestly thought my life was over,” Elizabeth says. But as readers will learn, she easily has more than nine lives. From that misfortune came eventual salvation. Elizabeth’s life changed course and she began her company in the 1950’s with an antidote that she discovered to cure her damaged face. Her compelling, tragic, and humorous story goes on to chart a unique woman's determination to overcome every obstacle in her path. Her survival is a raw and powerful testament to human perseverance. Elizabeth’s ultimate successes with an international cosmetics company, loving family, and true happiness provide readers with possible life changing inspiration.
Simply written, yet deeply powerful- there is a message in this book that can help those who find themselves at crossroads or in the face of adversaries. Through historical accounts of different eras, with great gravitas, and the enlightening tone of her bright personality, Elizabeth demonstrates that one can not allow negative circumstances or events in life to take over.
In Elizabeth Grant: My Life – My Story, Elizabeth provides readers with guidance from her own experiences and allows readers to connect with her on an emotional level. She inspires her audience, enabling those who truly believe in her compelling words, that they too can make it happen for themselves. Elizabeth shows that self reliance, independence and courage are three key traits that made her who is today. Her message translates across generational and class divides, regardless of gender or race: live for your dreams, reach for the stars, and you can be anyone you want to be - if you put your mind to it.
The Early Years:
Lessons in Self-Reliance
I was born in the early 1900’s in London, England. The world was turbulent at the beginning of the twentieth century, caught in the crumbling grasp of Europe’s royal dynasties. Revolt and rebellion whispered through political corridors and uncertainty defined the era. In Russia, the Romanov Tsar, Nicholas II, wielded iron power, and within Russia’s western provinces, known as the Pale of Settlement, persecution against Jews meant deadly pogroms—state-sanctioned, unprovoked attacks on lives and property. It was from this kind of assault that my mother, Alice, fled, along with her brother and two sisters. She had witnessed local brutality and had watched Cossacks burn her home to the ground.
Armed with considerable wits, she and her siblings headed to England. The rough voyage and subsequent entrance into London was similar to the experience of thousands of other refugees pouring into large cities in both Western Europe and North America. It was the age of the greatest population migration in history, marked by ever-increasing eruptions of war and the rise of new political movements.
In London, Yiddish-speaking organizations such as the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Zionist Federation stationed themselves at the piers, offering the new immigrants immediate help and information. When my mother arrived in London, she couldn’t speak a word of English. She had no money, no family, and no job. All she owned was what she was could carry and whatever her mother had sewn into her skirt.
Notorious for its Cockney inhabitants, its winding, narrow streets, and the salacious murders of Jack the Ripper, the East End became home to most of the new Jewish immigrants. Many took up the local needle trade, which had begun in the 1700s with Protestant Huguenots fleeing Catholic France. Traces of their elaborate couture shops and princely homes still dotted Brick Lane.
British society was in flux. Queen Victoria died in 1901, but the rigidity of social manners and mores—not to mention the elitist class system—was still very much in place. King Edward VII ushered in the brief Edwardian Age, a final and feeble nod to entrenched nineteenth-century values before the stirrings of modernity and the First World War in 1914 gave everyone—from the manor on down—a resounding shake, collapsing the rigid social structure of the British society. The war elevated the position of women in that women started to work in offices and munitions factories and do what was always termed “men’s work.” This was the true era of the emancipation of women. It was a time when women started to raise the bar for themselves, giving themselves a new sense of self-worth and a realization of what they were capable and able of achieving. The women in England threw off their Victorian ideals and started to create a new identity and a new place for themselves in society.
"Grant’s story is inspirational to women the world over. My only complaint about this book, and it is a major one, is that it is not twice its size! Left wanting more, I read My Life – My Story in a day, used a couple of hankies to wipe the tears away paired with many outbursts of laughter, and enthusiastically passed it on to my mother for her to read as well. My Life – My Story is as inspiring a read as Elizabeth Grant is to watch. Perhaps it is time to make my face look as good as Grant's!"
Kindah Mardam Bey, Press Plus One
“I couldn’t put it down. This is not a book just for beauty junkies, but for any woman entrepreneur, or anyone who has faced adversity. This book is on my must-read list. Put it on yours too.”
- Gracey Hitchcock, Dolce Dolce
“Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Walters and 30 Rock's Tracy Morgan are among celebrities who have written books perfect for holiday gifts. Here is a quick list of some books out this year as well as books worth revisiting from the past.”
(Elizabeth Grant My Life – My Story is included in the list of ten)
“Elizabeth Grant, who built a beauty empire with her own brand of skin care, has a memoir out this month. My Life, My Story tells of a girl from World War II England making it big.”
Cheryl Pruett, The Examiner
If you’d like to host an event, a house party or a book c club meeting with Elizabeth Grant, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
1) What historical facts throughout the book were you surprised to learn? Anything about WWII and England at that time? About way of life and trends?
2) What are your impressions of Elizabeth’s mother? Do you think she handled her family well given her circumstances?
3) Do you agree with Elizabeth’s choice to leave home at such a young age? Do you think many of the difficult decisions that Elizabeth was forced to make at a young age gave her the tools to become the successful woman she is today?
4) Elizabeth worked a few jobs at the same time. Have you ever had to push yourself almost beyond your limits to achieve a dream?
5) What do you think of Elizabeth’s 5 principles that are her foundation for living? Do you have a list of plans that you choose to live by?
6) Elizabeth was a kindred spirit in Charles’ life and vice versa. What do you make of their friendship and how do they help each other?
7) What was it like to read a first hand account from Elizabeth on her life? Did it enhance the story? Does it make her story more realistic? Could you empathize with her experiences more?
8) Much of Elizabeth’s story takes place in the mid 1900’s when it was more difficult for women to make it in business on their own. Women were constricted by their family, social conventions, economy—do you think some of these issues still affect women in business today? Are there other issues at play now?
9) Due to some poor accounting on Sydney’s behalf, Elizabeth had to declare bankruptcy. How did Elizabeth find it within herself to handle this situation and not play the blame game? What got her through this period?
10) What do you think is the most important advice/ life lesson that Elizabeth offers to us in this book?
If you have a question or a comment for Elizabeth, please email it to email@example.com and Elizabeth will respond here.