A sleeping beauty of a tale, actually, interwoven with the names of heroes and heroines, princes and dandies. And as if that wasn’t enough, a rags-to-riches story, too.
In spring 1799, an enterprising young man named James Atkinson set forth from the wilds of Cumberland for London. In his suit pocket were recipes for fine fragrances and toiletries he’d created himself. And next to him sat a generous amount of rose-scented bear grease balm. (Yes, really.) Even more extraordinarily, next to the balm sat a real, live bear who – so the tale goes – was utterly devoted to James.
James dared to open a shop at 44 Gerrard Street. And customers dared to enter, with Atkinsons being referred to as ‘that marvellous perfume shop with the most terrifying bear’. The bear sorted the men from the boys – but customers nevertheless flocked to stock up on their bear-grease and their scents for the London social season. And James’s reputation was made…