Esme grew up in Wandin Valley, a descendant of one of the original Wandin Valley settlers. She has a brother and nephew in Sydney.
Her true origins are a bit of a mystery to her, leading her to believe she was of blue blood. Cissie Holt, whom Esme thought was her aunt, ran with the wrong crowd and disappeared from the Valley for 6 months. One year after her return, Cissie committed suicide by slashing her wrists. Molly found old letters in her chimney from Cissie to Maisie Reed, the daughter of a man who had previously owned the Jones farm. Cissie had gotten pregnant to a man she called Ginge, after the colour of his hair (this turned out to Bert Griffiths, an old coot that Esme frequently butted heads with). She had named the baby Harriett but her sister, Mona Watson, changed the baby's name to Esme after she and her husband adopted her. Molly burned the letters and never told a soul, not even Esme, because she knew it would devastate Esme.
Esme's first love, Nat Jenner, married a friend of hers, Rita Hollings, when they were young and Esme never got over it (or forgave Rita), remaining single the rest of her life. Nat Jenner died in WW II. She was once engaged (by mistake) to Cookie but that didn't last long. She used to correspond with a New Zealand man named Leonard Truscott and he visited her every year for 33 years, until he arrived one day to tell her he was getting married. She began seeing Perce Hudson in late 1992, much to the horror of his daughter Bernice, and the two settled into a nice little relationship -- they even took a trip to Paris together. She often fought with Bernice but they were actually well suited as opponents and probably found a great deal of amusement and challenge in relating to each other.
In the beginning of the series, Esme was more of an old interfering busybody than anything else. Later on, the nicer side of her nature came through. She volunteered at the hospital as a Pink Lady and as a Brown Owl for the local Brownie troup in addition to her activites in the CWA. She was famous for her baking skills, most often baking lamingtons for some fundraiser or another. She was surprisingly adventurous, often taking part in whatever class was taking place in the Valley be it tai chi, karate, or belly dancing. She was very handy with power tools and knew her way around computers, unlike many of the townsfolk. She was a keen lawn bowler and star crib player. She was good friends with Cookie and Bob and often ended up an unwitting part of their schemes.
She owned her own home on Marshall Street, right next to Bev Little. When she lived there she often took in lodgers. After she began keeping house for Terence at Camelot, she rented the house out to various people, including Bob and Cookie and Tom Newman.