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The Life and Letter of Emma Hamilton

Hugh Tours

Frontline Books 2020

Hardback: $30.95   £20.00 – 286 pages – Non-Fiction

Order: https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Life-and-Letters-of-Emma-Hamilton-Hardback/p/17132  and also various book sellers

 

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This is not a 'new' book but a reprint of a book first published in 1963. It is a useful republish though as copies of the original are rare and the scholarship is excellent. The author minimises interpretation and instead includes a wide range of the extant letters in their entirety as opposed to the (unfortunately common perhaps) alternative of selectively quoting - often in an attempt to demonise or glorify. Therefore you get a good sense of the woman her life and the people in her life. He often provides rolling conversations and many letters from other people who had encountered Emma this giving some interesting counterpoints to some of the more established narratives.

 

Naturally Nelson features heavily near to the end more so because she did not destroy his letters whereas he assiduously did so to hers and he does not come across particularly well. Firstly the dalliance in Naples for less than decent military reasons then the 'I know you have unimpeachable honour' is opposed by the thought of Nelson having a child with the same woman whilst married to another and the fact he often rages at the thought of other men approaching Emma and her succumbing (whereas naturally if she had had that honour then there would have been nothing to worry about?). Different times now of course and people would not even blink at such an event but the reactions exposed give good insights into the state of mind and sometimes the lies we tell ourselves.

 

The book provides a lot of information and gives a good example of who Emma was, how she (Eventually) excelled in the world, caught a succession of admirers before Nelson and then saw her life collapse into ruins after his death. For anyone interested in Nelson, Emma or general Georgian society it is recommended.

 

 

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