Nelson & His World

'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle
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Author:  Vanda Cain [ Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:25 pm ]
Post subject:  'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

This book was posted on 5 November and the post has had over 200 views, but so far nobody has reviewed it. Please may I tell you something about it myself?

This is a biographical novel about Nelson and the Hamiltons - the 'Tria Juncta in Uno' - told in five parts. In part 1 'The Lure', Nelson tells his own story, introducing Emma into the narrative. Part 2 'Paradise Merton' explores Nelson's final leave at Merton Place. In part 3 'The Legend', Emma tells her own story. Part 4 'The Woman', sees Emma at Merton and Clarges Street as she hears of Nelson's death, and part 5 'Circe, the Sorceress'..... well, that's for you to read! For the purists, I must point out that this is, however meticulously researched, a novel, and please read the afterword carefully before you fire a shot across my bows! I sincerely hope you enjoy the book. For the art lovers among you, there is a thread of art history running through the narrative, and I use the cover portrait of Emma, by Johann Schmidt - Nelson's 'Guardian Angel' - as a motif. I would be very pleased if anyone would like to review the book here, and on 'Kindle.' It is presently being reviewed by 'The Nelson Society'.

I am an art historian and lecturer specializing in British painting and costume. I served in the WRNS and have catalogued work in the art collection of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

Author:  Mark Barrett [ Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

Hi Vanda

I think this is the first time I have come across any mention of your book. Well done on getting it to this level. I appreciate the effort and dedication that it will have taken.

Having said that can I make at least one initial observation. The use of the word "bitch" in the title is a bit off-putting for me. I suppose I'm a bit old school and it's not a word I am fond of at all. Especially in relation to Emma who I, and I am sure others on this forum, have a high regard for.

Is it something that was actually said about Emma in her lifetime? If so I can't recall when or where. Or did you just choose to use it for dramatic effect?

I would be interested in your comments on that.


Author:  Tony [ Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

I don't have books or references to hand, but I'm pretty sure St Vincent referred to her as a bitch, or even as an 'infernal bitch', on more than one occasion. It would be interesting to know whether the title is designed to evoke sympathy for Emma as an illustration of what she was up against? The danger is that some might assume that the book is unsympathetic towards her. Perhaps it is? I guess there is one way to find out...

Author:  Mark Barrett [ Thu Jan 23, 2014 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

Hi Tony

Well remembered! Armed with your information I just pulled out a couple of books and St Vincent did indeed write in 1814 "What a diabolical bitch". That's 100% confirmation that that term was indeed used about Emma during her lifetime.

Additionally though it is worth noting that he only used it when he mistakenly believed that she had sold Nelson's letters for publication.

At the moment I can't spot which letter it is in. I'm sure it must have been reproduced in one of the various books so I'll have another dig and report back if I find anything.


Author:  Galiano [ Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

Nelson's Surgeon, p. 139:

Nelson’s will, and the extraordinary bequest regarding Emma, appeared in the press on 23 December. Not only did he leave his mistress to the country, he made generous provision for her while leaving Fanny, his estranged wife, just £1,000 a year to live on. Many of his naval colleagues were horrified by his behaviour. Earl St Vincent, his patron and supporter, wrote to his sister: ‘The Will of Lord Nelson has thrown a Shade upon the lustre of his service; that infernal Bitch Lady Hamilton would have made him poison his Wife and stab me, his best friend.’

(BL Add MSS 29915, St Vincent to his sister, 3 Jan. 1806.)

Author:  Vanda Cain [ Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

The title - and cover illustration - of a book are marketing tools designed to arrest the attention. This appears to be working!

The book's working title was 'The Enchantress', after Romney's portrait of Emma as Circe. I subsequently considered this to be an image unrecognizable as Emma to the general public, and the title rather 'twee' for so remarkable a woman. I decided upon something all together harder-hitting and commisioned a line-drawing of the Schmidt portrait of Emma, (Nelson's 'Guardian Angel') to make her instantly recognizable - and give the greatest contrast with the title.

Mark, you are quite correct; the title was chosen for dramatic effect, but as an historian I would not have used the term so publically if I had not seen it used in context with Emma.

Tony, you have hit the nail right on the head with your suggestion that I used the term to illustrate how Emma was perceived - rightly or wrongly - at the time. I agree that there is a danger of prospective readers assuming that the book is unsympathetic to her, but as you say, there is only one way to find out.

Galiano, thank you so much for the quote! I had seen this one long before I began the research for the book - but had not made a record of it. I am in your debt.

I am grateful for all your comments. I hope that you will all read the book - and enjoy it - and post a review.

Incidentally, if readers log on to Amazon, they will be able to read the book's description and six reviews. They will also be able to download (free) a sample comprising the first couple of chapters. For those who do not have a Kindle, it is now possible to download a free 'Kindle app' from Amazon and read e.books on virtually any computer, pad, android or i-phone.

Best regards, Vanda

Author:  Trimmer [ Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

In correspondence with Alexander Davison dated August 1801. I recall that Edward Thornbrough Parker wrote of Emma:

'that Bitch will play the duece with him'

Author:  Mark Barrett [ Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

Wow, thanks for putting me straight on this guys. That's 3 instances of the b**** word - and I don't recall coming across any of them in my reading/research over the years. I'm sure if I had it would have stuck in my mind. But it just reinforces what we already know. i.e. that this is such a vast subject that it's impossible to know it all. :)

Regarding the book itself unfortunately I don't have a Kindle.

However I think I have the Kindle for PC software on one of my computers here. So I'll have a look tomorrow and one way or another I'll do the download.

I'll be back . . . . . .

Author:  Starhawk [ Sat Jan 25, 2014 10:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

Firstly, congratulations on such great reviews! Did you self-publish to kindle?

I've got a lot of books on my reading list but will add yours to it. I'm very interested to read how you portrayed Nelson and Emma as there are very few novels out there based on either of them. I think you're quite brave to do so because it's a risk, I guess, fleshing out such well-known historical figures into real characters in a way that will satisfy the Nelson fans among us (some of whom undoubtedly feel we 'know' our hero!), but your reviewers seem more than happy with it. In the description of the book, "When the comet of this physically unprepossessing man streaked over Naples and collided with the glittering constellation that was Emma Hamilton, history's famous love affair was born." sold it to me.

Good luck with it and with the Nelson Society review, I'm looking forward to reading it and I'll post back when I have (probably not til I go back to work in April after maternity leave as I get most of my reading done on the hour commute!) :)

Author:  tycho [ Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

My daughter has downloaded Vanda's novel onto her Kindle so I shall have access in due course! I look forward to reading it.

In view of Vicki's comments about the dearth of novels about Nelson and Emma, I thought I'd open another thread for members to post the titles of any books they know. Jacqui is hugely knowledgeable about Emma in fiction as well as about the details of her life. I'm sure she'll add something of interest

Author:  vijhoni62 [ Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 'The Hamilton Bitch' by Vanda Cain (Kindle

This was book was thoroughly researched and I found it an illuminating read. The writing flows and deals with the chronology very effectively without being boringly predictable. It certainly has given me a new slant on Nelson the man, and focused my mind for the first time on Emma Hamilton. Somehow the author has managed the magic trick of slotting facts into a fictional account in a most entertaining and gripping way. I hope there will be more to come from this refreshing author.

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