Williams, Kate 1974–
Williams, Kate 1974–
Born November 30, 1974, in Staffordshire, England. Education: Studied at Somerville College, University of Oxford; Queen Mary, University of London, M.A. Hobbies and other interests: Visiting Italy, eating apples, and reading long novels.
Home—London, England. Agent—John Saddler, Saddler Literary Agency, 9 Curzon Rd., London W5 1NE, England.
Writer. Lectures to society and groups.
England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Time Out and the London Independent.
Kate Williams is an English writer. Williams published her first book, England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, in 2006. Amy Lyon, better known as Emma Hamilton, had a rough upbringing and was forced to support herself by working as a prostitute. She later moved to London and was overwhelmed with the wealth, culture, and sophistication the city offered. She used her strong will and good looks to get jobs and upward promotions until she found herself as a lady and wife of a well-to-do Londoner, making her tale a true rags-to-riches story.
Mary Ann Smyth, writing on the BookLoons Web site, observed that Williams does "accurately portray" Emma Hamilton. Smyth pointed out that the book "shines a spotlight on the plight of women at that time and their dependence on men to just eke out an existence. We have come a far piece, but aren't there quite yet," concluding: "This is a wonderful book." Amanda Vaill, writing in the Washington Post Book World, stated: "In recounting Emma's dramatic life, Kate Williams has done a thorough job in researching and presenting her subject's historical context. She knows what servant girls ate and how they were treated, what political cross-currents swept across Europe in the wake of the French Revolution, how London society behaved in the late 18th-century." Vaill noted, however, that "in the absence of hard evidence, she sometimes strains for effects, writing that Emma ‘probably’ did thus and so or ‘perhaps’ said this or that; and in an effort to make Emma and her story relevant to modern tastes, she sometimes jarringly resorts to the language of today's tabloids." Nevertheless, Vaill concluded that the book "divertingly and instructively illuminates" the life, time, and culture of Emma Hamilton.
London Independent contributor Rebecca Loncraine found it refreshing that the author "avoids the usual prurient treatment of famous women with murky pasts" and downplays her time working as a prostitute. Loncraine observed that "it is the thoroughness of the research and attention to detail that make Kate Williams' new biography of Emma Hamilton so interesting." A contributor to Publishers Weekly described the book as an "absorbing, well-crafted biography," noting that Williams's writing style in the book is "as competent in its storytelling as it is in its authoritative analysis of 18th-century class distinctions." In a Library Journal review, Matt Todd described the biography as "a lively and engaging study." He was concerned, however, that "the book sometimes reads like a made-for-television special." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews described the biography as a "business-like portrait of Emma Hamilton." The same contributor noted that the account was "no fascinating new dish here, but a meat-and-potatoes biography." Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan commented that the author "displays a knack for presenting a sweeping historical story in a vivid and digestible format."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 2006, Margaret Flanagan, review of England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, p. 21.
Guardian (London, England), November 4, 2006, review of England's Mistress.
Independent (London, England), October 11, 2006, Rebecca Loncraine, review of England's Mistress.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of England's Mistress, p. 833.
Library Journal, November 15, 2006, Matt Todd, review of England's Mistress, p. 77.
Publishers Weekly, August 7, 2006, review of England's Mistress, p. 43.
Times Literary Supplement, December 8, 2006, Frances Wilson, review of England's Mistress, p. 27.
Washington Post Book World, November 5, 2006, Amanda Vaill, review of England's Mistress.
Women's Studies, April 1, 2007, Mai Ohri, review of England's Mistress, p. 223.
Blues Talking,http://bluestalking.typepad.com/ (November 14, 2006), author interview.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (January 29, 2008), Mary Ann Smyth, review of England's Mistress.
Kate Williams Home Page,http://www.kate-williams.com (January 29, 2008), author biography.
Kate Williams MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/slatekate (January 29, 2008), author profile.