Courtesans

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Harper Perennial, 2004 - Courtesans - 363 pages
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'Irresistible...history at its most human. Elegant and addictively readable.' William Dalrymple

During the course of the 18th- and 19th-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.

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

User Review  - Evan - Goodreads

This book was interesting in that it introduced me to five women who were otherwise unknown to me. For this alone the book is worth a read to those who are curious about little known history. The main ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Katie Hickman was born into a diplomatic family in 1969 and has spent more than twenty-five years living abroad in Europe, the Far East and Latin America. She is the author of the bestselling Daughters of Britannia. She has also been short listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award for A Trip to the Light Fantastic, to be reissued as Travels with a Circus and was short listed for the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year for her novel The Quetzal Summer.

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