“Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat.”
She was born Amy Lyon, on April 16, 1765 in Ness, Chesire, a poverty-stricken community made up of a depressing huddle of thirty or more miners’ homes. England was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and coal was the black gold of the eighteenth century. Her father, a blacksmith, died under suspicious circumstances, when she was two months old. She was left in the care of her mother, Mary Kidd who returned to her family home in Hawarden. Amy Lyon had no formal education, nor did she have any means by which to change her situation.
“Time is everything,” as Lord Nelson declared years later. Timing and luck were indeed in Amy Lyon’s favour. Even at a young age, she was working, first as a maid for a local doctor in Harwarden and then for a family in Chatham Place, Blackfriars. This is where she met her friend, Jane Powell, a turning point in Amy’s life. Jane aspiration’s to become an actress inspired Emma to start working as a maid to the actresses of the Drury Lane theatre in Covent Garden. Her next career was as a “Goddess of Health,” a model and dancer at James Graham’s “Temple of Health.” An entrepreneur, showman and all around quack, James Graham used smoke fireworks and music, to support his claim that electricity, as administered via his technique, would cure all ills. The Temple, declared at times to be the Elysian Palace, glittered with gold and silver and was embellished by Oriental drapes, crystal chandeliers, and paintings of medieval knights. It is said that even the Prince of Wales came for visits.
James Graham soon gave up electricity, embracing the healing virtues of mud bathing, in cheaper accommodations off Pall Mall. Amy left the Temple and accepted a position in Madam Kelly’s. A chance meeting with Sir Harry Featherstonhaugh propelled Amy into the world of the aristocracy. She was 15.
“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”