Emily Hill was born and raised just off the quayside in Newcastle, the only child of her widowed mother Lucy. It had been hoped that she would be the first child of many but, after the sudden death of her father shortly before her birth, this was never meant to be. It was just the two of them and that was just the way it was.
Life in Newcastle was hard for Emily and her mother. Employment for women was extremely scarce and they struggled to make ends meet. They survived mainly on a widow’s allowance from the Keelman’s Hospital, where Emily’s father had been a member, and supplemented this by washing and mending clothes for the quayside workers. Emily helped her mother where she could but she has been born physically impaired and found the work almost impossible to complete.
Just after her 11th birthday, Emily’s mother died from Cholera. With nothing left to keep her in the north of England she decided to leave in search of a better life. She had heard wonderful things about the big city from the many strangers who passed through the quayside daily. Lured by dream of a job, meeting a rich man and having lots of money she worked her way south. Each town she passed through doing whatever she could to earn enough money to travel on to the next. Each town representing a step closer to her final destination.
During her long journey she quickly realised her gift for selling. She had a sweet smile, a persuasive tongue and a way of making passers by feel sorry for her. She especially liked selling flowers as they were light to carry and their pleasant fragrance hid the putrid stench of the gutter which she often found herself sitting in.
On arriving in London, Emily continued to sell flowers to make a living and still does to this day. She can often be found walking the streets close to Covent Garden or Farringdon flower markets. If her legs are bad, which they often are, she sits on a street corner and tries to appeal to the softer side of any passing gentlemen.