A Full Cup: Sir Thomas Lipton's Extraordinary Life and His Quest for the America's Cup
Today Lipton means tea. However, in his time Sir Thomas Lipton was known for much more than the Lipton tea empire. Raised in desperate poverty, he would build a global empire of markets, factories, plantations, and stockyards. But his epic pursuit of the America’s Cup—a yachting trophy and the ultimate in international sport—made him a beloved figure on both sides of the Atlantic.
More than a story of innovation and achievement, A Full Cup also explores Lipton’s most intriguing creation: his public persona, formed by a burgeoning mass media and a shameless self-promotion that made him one of the most recognizable figures of his time. Michael D’Antonio brings to life the surprising careers of this intrepid sailor, gregarious showman, and ingenious self-made millionaire—the world’s very first celebrity CEO.
months ordinary life was suspended and war occupied much of the world. In the crisis, Lipton found opportunity both to serve and to restore his own reputation. Big enough to be considered a small ship, the Erin was destined to go to war the moment Britain entered the conflict in August of 1914. In September, Lipton accompanied about one hundred doctors and nurses who sailed on the yacht from Southampton to Le Havre, where they would begin their mission to treat the wounded and dying. In early
accept ghastly truths about human nature and the notion of “progress.” In the aftermath of the “war to end all wars,” as President Wilson called it, a new order was clearly visible. The Russian, German, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires were gone, and kings, queens, and emperors were fast becoming obsolete. In America, a genuine Machine Age was at hand as the number of automobiles would exceed 9 million by 1920 (one for every eleven people). Telephones were in even wider use, with
brought every member of the force to 101 Stobcross. (They wanted to see if they recognized themselves.) The exact identity of Lockhart’s cop was never established, but Lipton would claim that many of the city’s finest became regular customers. Scenes of Gladstone hoisting a ham, or a policeman falling on a crate of eggs, were popular with Lipton’s customers. Popular, too, were the occasional sculptures made out of butter that Lockhart added to the window decoration. (A racy one showed a stout
Nicknamed Little England, it was a popular resort for expatriates who, thanks to the climate, found fresh strawberries served year-round at the posh Planters Club. South of Little England, where the landscape was carved by rivers and streams, Lipton caught sight of Ceylon’s most significant landmark, a dome-shaped mountain locals called Sri Pada, or “sacred foot,” and Britons called Adam’s Peak. At the summit a small shrine guarded a rock believed to bear the imprint made by Buddha’s left foot.
a passport or visa, and American laws setting immigrant quotas still years in the future, this was all he needed to begin his pursuit of a new life in the New World. Fearing they would try to stop him, he considered simply leaving without a word to his parents. His apprehension was reasonable. Scottish mothers and fathers knew that although nearly all said they would return, very few boys who departed for America ever came back. A young man could avoid a lot of tears, threats, and demands by