The Courtesan’s Revenge

Harriette Wilson, the woman who blackmailed the king
ISBN: 0571205240
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Harriette Wilson’s Memoirs omit both time and place; there are no addresses given, no locations described, no elections, diseases, or wars. “Dates make ladies nervous and stories dry,” she wrote.

It has taken me quite a while to finish this book. Usually that isn’t a very good sign, it means I’ve not really being all that interested in it, but usually I don’t read non-fiction. Whenever I do it always takes me longer to get through.

This is the story of Harriette Wilson who grew up to become a courtesan in Regency London. The woman whose Memoirs caused a scandal, and raised her quite a bit of cash, as those named began to buy her silence. But as well as that it is a story of how few options there were available to women at that time. It was a case of be married or be damned. Harriette seems to have chosen the damned option. It was her book that led to the, now famous, if incorrect line by Wellington, “publish and be damned”.

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