Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century

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9780060935146: Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century

The great English courtesans and their glittering era, by the author of Daughters of Britannia

During the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a small group of women rose from impoverished obscurity to positions of great power, independence and wealth. In doing so they took control of their lives – and those of other people – and made the world do their will.
Men ruined themselves in desperate attempts to gain and retain a courtesan's favours, but she was always courted for far more than sex. In an age in which women were generally not well educated she was often unusually literate and literary, courted for her conversation as well as her physical company. Courtesans were extremely accomplished, and exerted a powerful influence as leaders of fashion and society. They were not received at Court, but inhabited their own parallel world – the demi-monde – complete with its own hierarchies, etiquette and protocol. They were queens of fashion, linguists, musicians, accomplished at political intrigue and, of course, possessors of great erotic gifts. Even to be seen in public with one of the great courtesans was a much-envied achievement.
In Courtesans Katie Hickman, author of the bestselling Daughters of Britannia, focuses on the exceptional stories of five outstanding women. Sophia Baddeley, Elizabeth Armistead, Harriette Wilson, Cora Pearl and Catherine Walters may have had very different personalities and talents, but their lives exemplify the dazzling existence of the courtesan.

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During the course of the nineteenth century, a small group of women rose from impoverished obscurity to positions of great power, independence, and wealth. In doing so they took control of their lives -- and those of other people -- and made the world do their will.

Review:

Praise for Daughters of Britannia:

‘This is a delightful and exceptionally well-written book, funny, lively and warm-hearted.’
Philip Ziegler, Daily Telegraph

‘This is a lovely book: affectionate, celebratory and as conscious of the glory as the hardship. These women lived; they saw dolphins in the Bosphorous at dawn, took tea with empresses, watched eclipses in Turkistan. And they were so lonely that they wrote it all down.’
Libby Purves, Sunday Times

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