Memoir Blog by Lily Style (June 2023)

How serendipity kickstarted my writing

I grew up knowing my isolated, little family line is directly descended from the infamous romance of Lord Nelson and Emma Hamilton via my beloved grandfather who lived in Lutton House, South Brent. However, I’d quickly learnt that talking about my ancestry made me seem like a show off.  

The first serendipitous event

I was living in a one bedroom flat in Plymouth with my partner and our nearly four-year-old daughter. Rents were sky-high and we’d been getting nowhere queuing for social housing, because we were in a low priority band. 

I decided to apply for less sought-after, rural properties and registered interest in a house in South Brent. When the housing association offered it to us, I screamed, “yes!” 

We loved South Brent from the get go, but I felt an extra good vibe for having moved into the village my Nelson ancestors once lived in. Weird as this may sound, I sensed their approval as a warm, electric buzz.

The second serendipitous event

The second instance of early 2015 serendipity caused me to sit down, shocked. It felt like being in a high-drama scene from a soap opera. I received a Facebook message from an eldest brother called David who I’d never heard of! His profile’s header picture was of my mum, looking very young, with a baby. She’d given him up for adoption when he was six-weeks-old.

David and I hit it off immediately. I asked him if he knew about our Nelson lineage. He said he was wowed because he used to fantasise about being descended from someone famous.

My brother’s enthusiasm rubbed off on me. He taught me how to research our ancestry. I bought an Emma Hamilton biography and was dumbstruck by the major things she achieved aren’t known about. I launched Emma Hamilton Society in 2016 and started writing articles for historical publications. 

Eight years on, my main creative outlet is writing that’s inspired by my genealogical research.