February 23, 2018

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    (excerpt from the article)

    Lady Hamilton

    February 19, 2015 by Maggie McNeill

    A cleaner, sweeter bed-fellow does not exist. – Greville’s letter praising Emma to Lord Hamilton

    Amy Lyon, the daughter of a blacksmith named Henry Lyon and his wife Mary, was born on April 26th,
    1765 in Cheshire, England. Her father died when she was an infant and
    her mother raised her alone, later sending her to live with her
    grandmother in Wales. At twelve she started working as a maid and soon
    met another maid named Jane Powell, who aspired to be an actress;
    through her Amy found work at the Drury Lane theatre as a maid to
    several actresses, during which time she lived in the home of a brothel
    madam named Mrs. Kelly. Her beauty and grace attracted the attention of
    James Graham, the doctor who owned an establishment called the “Temple
    of Health and Hymen” where couples could pay £50 a night (over £3000
    today) to have sex in the “Celestial Bed”, which administered mild
    electric shocks that were supposed to cure infertility and encourage the
    conception of “perfect” babies. Amy’s job was to be a hostess, model
    and erotic dancer, presumably to augment the effects of the electric
    bed. When she was sixteen she was hired by Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh
    to provide entertainment at a several-months-long standing party; she is
    known to have danced nude on the dining room table at this shindig, and
    her other activities may be guessed by the fact that she was pregnant
    by the end of the summer, presumably by Sir Harry.

    As was typical in those days, Sir Harry blamed the pregnancy entirely
    on Amy, so though he was still supporting her she decided to become the
    kept woman of Charles Francis Greville, an MP and the second son of the
    first Earl of Warwick. Though Greville was in love with Amy, he was
    quite domineering and appears to have viewed her as a piece of
    property. When the baby, who was given the name Emma Carew, was born,
    he sent her away to be raised by a couple named Blackburn; around this
    same time he also demanded that Amy change her own name to Emma,
    specifically “Emma Hart”. When he had her portrait painted by his
    friend George Romney, the painter became obsessed with her; he made so
    many sketches of her (both nude and clothed) at this time and later that
    he was able to paint a number of portraits of her without further
    sitting. Because Romney was a popular painter, Emma became well-known
    in London society both for her wit and personality and as an artist’s

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