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Writes the historian-author of this brilliantly researched biography of the love affair between Horatio, Admiral Lord Nelson, and Emma, Lady Hamilton: ""There was an admiral, small, sick, mutilated, half blind (Nelson had lost an arm and an eye), with few teeth, who regularly damned the French, loved England, and wrote heart thumping letters to a fat woman of 40. There was this woman, gross, vulgar, extravagant, her beauty blown, . . . who loved and adored him. . . ."" There was also Emma's elderly husband, Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to Naples, who loved them both and formed the third member of the tria juncta in uno, as they called themselves. A connoisseur of art, Sir William had ""collected"" Emma as a young girl from his nephew, made her his mistress, and married her. Nelson, with a wife in London, met the Hamiltons in 1793 when he arrived there with the British fleet as a captain; returning in 1798, Admiral Nelson and victor of the Battle of the Nile, he at once fell ""fiercely"" in love with Lady Hamilton and she with him. The rest of the well-known tale has seldom been told better than in this unfictionalized book: the flight to Palermo of the Neopolitan court and the Hamiltons from the French army in one of Nelson's ships; the overland journey of the three to England and their life there; Emma's extravagances, Nelson's jealousy, their unkindness to his wife; the birth of their daughter Horatia. . . . It ended with Nelson's death at Trafalgar in 1805. Left a legacy to England by Nelson, Emma, denied a pension, stripped of all her possessions by his brother, died of drink and poverty in Calais in I815. Here, set against a naval and political background, with a fine account of Trafalgar, are the ingredients of a book no admirer of unadulterated biography should miss.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1969
Publisher: Simon & Schuster