Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: Emma and Nelson in Fiction
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:55 pm 
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As members will know from previous posts, I love both history and fiction but prefer to keep them separate. For me, the novel, which, after all, means 'new', has to be of the time it is written, or at least deal with a period within living memory, and unself-consciously reflect its mores, manners and language. I nearly always find the research in an historical novel too obtrusive, and I am uneasy about using real-life, historical characters and projecting them into situations they might not have experienced and giving expression to words they might not have uttered and thoughts they might not have entertained. The only writer who has totally overcome my prejudice about this - and I admit it is a prejudice - is Patrick O'Brian who captures everything about the eighteenth century so totally that it never appears imitative.

Anyhow. Emma. Nelson. Fiction. Jacqui is the authority here, as well as Number One on Emma's life. I hope she'll add something.

As well as Vanda's novel 'That Hamilton Bitch', I also recall 'Too Great a Lady' by Amanda Elyot and 'Nelson's Daughter' by Miranda Hearn. I'll copy reviews I posted elsewhere if anyone is interested.

Fiction about Nelson and/or Emma I haven't read: 'The Volcano Lover' by Susan Sontag; 'Miledi: the story of Lady Hamilton' by Bradda Field (at least, I think it's fiction. Jacqui - help!) and 'Losing Nelson' by Barry Unsworth.

There are also plays/films, of course: 'That Hamilton Woman' with Olivier and Vivien Leigh and also Bequest to the Nation (don't recall the author) spring to mind.

Can anyone add any others or make comments?

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 Post subject: Re: Emma and Nelson in Fiction
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:59 pm 
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Here is an initial selection off the top of my head.

The Nelson Boy and A Thorough Seaman by Pauline Hunter Blair.

The Far-Off Ships by Kenneth Fenwick. Fenwick wrote factual books about Trafalgar, HMS Victory, and edited and wrote an introduction to an edition of Southey's Life of Nelson. The Far-Off ships is a fictionalised account of the chase across the Atlantic in 1805.

Afloat with Nelson, or from the Nile to Trafalgar by Charles H Eden. I don't really know much about Eden but he seems to have written a fair few books. One of them was another naval faction book "At Sea Under Drake on the Spanish Main."

One book which I have never got round to buying is "Sharpe's Trafalgar". In fact I have never read any of the Sharpe books about the Napoleonic Wars but I know a lot of people find them very enjoyable.

Anna, I did have a copy of Losing Nelson from when it was first published but I'm not quite sure where it is now. I think it snuck into the best-sellers list at the time but I recall it being a bit of an odd book. Set in the present day about a slightly disfunctional Nelson obsessive . . . . . :D


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 Post subject: Re: Emma and Nelson in Fiction
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:38 pm 
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I read one called The Vice Admiral of the Blue by Roland Burnham Molineux. It's written from the point of view of Thomas Hardy as he watches the Nelson/Emma affair unfold but, although he does like Emma, he of course wants Nelson to get back with his wife. It's a little far-fetched in places but I enjoyed it.

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 Post subject: Re: Emma and Nelson in Fiction
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:40 am 
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As Anna knows, I've been collecting fictional accounts of Emma's life and 'adventures' for too many years to remember. (As well as attempting to form a complete library of the non-fiction variety.)

They can be hugely entertaining - and vastly divergent. One of the most interesting aspects in fiction, but in non-fiction especially, is just how polarised they are. There's little of the middle-ground to be found with Emma in print - and her life seems to grip authors, both pro and anti, either one way or the other. There's a fascinating study somewhere in all that.

Anna is right about these books. Very few (just one really) manage to capture the period and its personalities – their voices and time – smoothly and effortlessly - as naturally as breathing. Others are wildly imaginative, hardly reminiscent of the period at all, and with little done in the matter of research. That too is a spoiler.

I've been jotting down the titles of the fictional works whilst meandering around the rooms here, so here's the book list so far. These feature Emma as the main (or one of the main characters). The list of books where she features prominently but peripherally – from Chamier’s Ben Brace to Lambdin’s HMS Cockerel - would run into the hundreds. And Nelson in his own right is another (monumental) thing entirely.

These are not in any particular order, but I’ve marked the favourites with an asterisk:

*Miledi - Bradda Field
Emma in Blue – Gerald Hamilton & Desmond Stuart
*Beauty’s Daughter - Mollie Hardwick (author of the non-fiction Emma, Lady Hamilton)
Too Great a Lady – Amanda Elyot
Sir William: A Lesson in Love – David Stacton
Bequest to the Nation – Terence Ratigan (used as the basis for the Peter Finch/Glenda Jackson film of the same name)
The Wayward Son: The story of Nelson and Emma’s secret son – Howard George
*Nelson’s Daughter – Miranda Hearn
The Blacksmith’s Daughter – Joanna Dessau
The Admiral’s Fancy – Showell Styles
The Fair Enchantress: A Romance of Lady Hamilton’s Early Years - H Schumacher
Nelson’s Last Love – H Schumacher
Vice Admiral of the Blue – Roland Bernard Molineux
*The Volcano Lover – Susan Sontag
On A Making Tide - David Donachie
Breaking the Line – David Donachie
Loving Emma – Nigel Foxell
Emma Expects – Nigel Foxell
Emma – F W Kenyon
Our Dearest Emma – Lozania Prole
The Divine Lady – Barrington (book of the Olivier/Leigh film)
The Nelson Touch – Paul Lewis
*A Game For Empires – Pauline Fry
*The Sleeping Sword – Pauline Fry
Lady Hamilton – Alexander Dumas
Rodney Stone – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Milady Hamilton: a novel – Robert L Kail
The Gentleman – Alfred Ollivant
First Impressions - Uma
That Hamilton Bitch – Vanda Cain

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 Post subject: Re: Emma and Nelson in Fiction
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:05 pm 
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Wow I had no idea there were so many! Jacqui, have you considered making a website or blog to chronicle your collection? It would be helpful for enthusiastic newbies like me :D

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 Post subject: Re: Emma and Nelson in Fiction
PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2014 9:38 pm 
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That's a lovely idea, Vicky. But I know from Anna's site here how much time, talent and dedication it takes to do it well. Perhaps if I can gather a detailed list together, it would be fun to record it in some way. When that time comes - I can't think of a better place to chronicle it than here.

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