Emma, Lady Hamilton (1765 - 1815) was born Amy Lyon near Neston, Cheshire, in England. Her father, a blacksmith, died when she was two months old. She was brought up by her mother, with no formal education. At the age of 15, she became the mistress of Charles Francis Greville, member of Parliament for Warwick, who persuaded her to change her name to Emma Hart. Greville sent her to be painted by his friend George Romney. She became his muse – he painted many portraits of her in various poses, and she became well known in society circles as a result. By 1783, Greville was engaged and needed to be rid of Emma. He passed her on to his uncle, Sir William Hamilton, British envoy to Naples. As Sir William's mistress, Emma developed what she called her "Attitudes" – a sort of mime act, presenting herself in classical costumes and poses, her identity to be guessed by the audience. Her act became a sensation across Europe, and was subsequently copied by several other female artists.
Sir William married her in 1791, making her Lady Hamilton. She was 26 and he 60. She and Nelson fell in love in Naples in 1798. He had returned from war with military accolades but missing an arm and most of his teeth. Emma nursed him in her husband's home.
Nelson, Emma and William returned to Britain in 1800, and lived together openly. Nelson went back to sea to fight the Napoleonic wars, where he was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Emma, devastated, soon fell into debt. She moved to France to try to escape her creditors, and died there in 1815.