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By Peter Yates, HOPC Editor-in-Chief

Joan Rhodes, The Mighty Mannequin. Courtesy Roger Fillary.

Born into poverty, Joan Louisa Ada Taylor, along with her siblings, was abandoned by her parents at an early age, and was initially taken into the workhouse. The family were divided and an aunt paid for her to attend a boarding school for a while and later she was taken in by another aunt who ran a pub in London. Unhappy she ran away from home at fourteen sleeping rough or in women’s hostels when she could afford to. Often her meal for the day would be bread and dripping [beef fat] and a mug of tea. Her first means of income came by working as a ” bottler” for the street performers who had befriended her. A bottler is someone who passes around the hat for donations from the gathered, crowd. For this she was given a share of the takings while simultaneously learning the ropes. cont’d…

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