England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamitlon

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9780091794743: England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamitlon

The story of Emma Hamilton’s rise, from prostitute to consort of the most famous man in England, has a contemporary ring of the self-made celebrity.

Emma Hamilton was only twelve-years-old when she set off for London, initially as a domestic servant, before finding work as an actress’s maid at Drury Lane. Within a short space of time, this indomitable young woman became the mistress of a leading aristocrat, the wife of another, the Lady Ambassadress to Naples, and the notorious lover of the most sought-after man in England, Horatio Nelson.

In the days before photography, television and tabloid newspapers, Emma Hamilton would make astute use of art to promote an image of herself as an icon of fashion and beauty. The artist George Romney helped make her famous, producing hundreds of canvases devoted to the woman who was his perfect muse.

However, it was her association with Nelson that brought Emma the kind of stardom we associate today with Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. When she first met him — the conquering hero of the Battle of the Nile — he was a small man with only one arm, one eye and his front teeth missing. But he was to be the consuming passion of her life.

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About the Author:

Kate Williams has published articles and essays in a wide range of books and journals. She appears regularly on BBC and Channel 4 to discuss her work.

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