Regency Era Women of Low Virtue-FREE Historical Romance Too!
Collette Cameron here today.
I was rearranging my books—to make room for more, of course—and I took a few moments to thumb through one of my volumes of The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson, a famous Regency era courtesan. Hers is a fascinating story, and her biography was written as a vendetta against the men who’d promised, and failed, to support her in her old-age.
Women who chose to become courtesans or demimondes weren’t common prostitutes. They came from all walks of life from country girls who ventured to town, to actresses, widows, even women of the upper class.
High class courtesans such as Harriette often kept quite nice homes with servants and entertained on the level of some of London’s elite. They visited the best modistes and even had their own theatre boxes. Prestigious patrons who could afford their fees came to them, and competition among the demimonde to steal the affections of a high-ranking gentleman wasn’t unheard of. To be ‘kept’ carte-blanche as a mistress and perhaps even eventually marry was far preferred to selling their wares.
Just a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, a handy directory one could purchase for a mere half crown. Inside the attractive volume was a list of dozens and dozens of ladies, their physical descriptions, and the services they specialized in.
Do you supposed it as an honor to make that list?
Many courtesans and brothel owners were quite proud of their profession and the infamy they achieved. Harriette ventured into her chosen career at fifteen, and in the opening line of her memoir, she refuses to say why. Three of her sisters also entered the trade by choice. Such wasn’t always the case. With no other way to earn a living, girls as young as eight and nine often took to the streets and became prostitutes, offering their charms to passing men.
At one time, one in five women living in London were engaged in prostitution at one level or another. The lowest class plied their trade on the streets and in their shared rooms, while others worked in fashionable brothels, or like Harriette and her sisters, aimed their sites much higher.
Even on the streets there was a system, an order, to how the ladies of the evening obtained their clients. Among the streetwalkers, the higher class women ventured onto the streets first, seeking a customer for the evening. Much later, the older women appeared. They included the diseased and those who were desperate and less particular. They’d often assault intoxicated passersby, crudely offering themselves and even conceding to satisfying a man in public.
During the Regency era, women of loose virtue were called a variety of names, many of which I’ve used in my books.
Doxy (not to be confused with dachsie-short-legged little hound dogs of which I have five!)
I’m sure there are terms I’ve miss, so please share if you know more.
PASSION AND PLUNDER-FREE!
September 24-26 only!
In Passion and Plunder, Highland Heather Romancing a Scot #5, one of the secondary characters finds herself forced into prostitution. I don’t want to give away too much, by my readers have told me this story made them cry.
Would you sacrifice everything for the person you love, knowing you can never be together?
A desperate Scottish lady
Lydia Farnsworth—the sole surviving heir to the Laird of Tornbury Fortress—has lost nearly everyone she loves. Now her father lies on his deathbed. And as if this isn’t dire enough, he’s invited men from the surrounding area to a warrior’s contest—the winner to claim Lydia as his bride.
A Scotsman dueling with his past
Alasdair McTavish, son of Craiglocky Keep’s war chief, is a seasoned warrior in his own right. So when he’s sent to Tornbury to train the Farnsworth soldiers, he’s more than equal to the task.
When a dangerous adversary makes a move against Lydia, a dastardly scheme comes to light, and Alasdair realizes only he can protect Lydia.
Don’t miss the 5th installment in this sweeping historical Highland romance series—get your copy of Passion and Plunder for a romantic Scottish adventure you won’t want to put down.
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I just received print copies of Passion and Plunder today, and I’ll give away one copy to a randomly drawn commenter. Also, join my VIP Reader Club and get a 3-book FREE Starter Library. All the details are HERE: