LADY IN BED
Emma Hamilton is one the most fascinating characters to have popped up in modern history. Beautiful and sexy, her larger than life character made her become an object of lust to the rich and aristocratic men of London in the late 18th century. But it was her love affair with Lord Nelson after the Battle of the Nile in 1798, at the time, an international scandal, that made this vivacious woman notorious throughout the land.
AMY ACROSS THE MERSEY
The story of how this working class girl became the true love of the most famous man in the lad is an interesting one. Born Amy Lyon at Ness on the Wirral in 1761, Emma Hart, as she became known, was the daughter of a Cheshire blacksmith and a servant woman and was brought up by her grandmother in the Flintshire countryside. Not much is known about her early life except that she appeared in London aged 12, working as an under-nursemaid in the house of a composer called Thomas Linley.
It was around the age of 16 that Emma's more vivacious qualities were given a more suitable environment in which to shine. After leaving the Linley's, it is reported she lived with a Mrs Kelly, known as a "procurer and abbess of a brothel". She next appears as attendant in the Temple of Health and Hymen - a place for couples where "perfect babies could be created"! She moved on from here to a cottage owned by Sir Harry Featherstonehaugh and it was here she is said to have danced naked on the dining table for the entertainment of his friends!
The route to her first meeting with Nelson starts with the Hon. Charles Greville who, impressed by her beauty, hoped to make a lot of money out of a series of paintings of her that he had commissioned from George Romney. After tiring of her, he sent her off to be look after by his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, the British envoy on Naples. Despite being considerably older, he became so enamoured that they married in 1791. However, Emma and Sir William soon became close friends of the Royal Family of Naples and when they returned during this same year, Emma met Nelson for the very first time.
GREAT BALLS OF FIRE
In 1798, Emma held a great Ball in Nelson's honour and by this point, the great naval figure was seriously enamoured with her - despite the loss of her superb figure. In fact, it is said Nelson found her voluptuousness and aura of sexuality quite overwhelming - so much so that he wrote to his wife that Lady Hamilton was a woman of remarkable talents! By 1801, Nelson and Emma were madly in love and that year, their child Horatia was born. Nelson was delighted and finally decided to leave his wife and live with Emma.
THE END OF THE AFFAIR
Emma and Nelson lived together as husband and wife in a small house in Merton but of course, the love her life was tragically killed at The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Inconsolable, Emma was not allowed to attend the funeral and despite her care being entrusted to the nation in Nelson's will, this was ignored by a snobbish George III and government embarrassed by her working-class roots. Left unsupported, she fled to Calais a lonely, broken woman where the life of one of the world's great beauties ended in 1815.