Mrs Tersa Cornelys was a unique figure in 18th-century Europe. A Venetian-born opera singer well known on the stages of Vienna, Bayreuth and Holland, she came to London in 1759 aged 36, and opened the capital's first real concert venue and nightclub - Carlisle House in Soho Square. Her private life and professional dealings were to scandalise society for the next 20 years. Outrageous, ingenious and indomitable, Mrs Cornelys enjoyed immense wealth and success during her lifetime, but although she earned a small fortune from carlisle house, she borrowed extensively, in common with many Londoners of the time, seldom paying her debts. After her imprisonment for bankcruptcy, her children turned their backs on her. Undaunted, Mrs Cornelys made a series of spectacular comebacks - at one point as a purveyor of asses' milk in Knightsbridge, in a salon entirely decorated with fragments of coloured looking-glass. She remained a working businesswoman well into her 70s. She died as a result of breast cancer in the Fleet Debtors' Prison in 1797.