Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Memoirs of the Reigning Courtesan of Regency London Paperback – 9 Jan 2003
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From the Back Cover
Harriette Wilson's Memoirs These are the memoirs of the reigning courtesan of Regency London whose patrons included most of the distinguished men of her day, from the Duke of Wellington to Lord Byron. Hard-pressed for money in middle age, she sold her memoirs after offering to edit out any lovers who paid her the sum of 200 Publish and be damned! cried the Duke of Wellington. She did and she was. Edited and Introduced by Lesley Blanch, author of The Wilder Shores of Love.
About the Author
Lesley Blanch was born in London, England, and has travelled over most of the globe. She began her career as a painter, illustrator and theatrical designer, but in 1937 transferred her allegiance to journalism and became features editor of London VOGUE. Her essays and articles have since appeared in most of Britain's leading periodicals, including the OBSERVER and the NEW STATESMAN. Harriette Wilson (1786-1846) was one of the most glamorous and intelligent women of her age. She allowed herself to be seduced by Lord Craven at the age of 15 and rapidly acquired a string of rich and powerful lovers, chief among whom was the Duke of Wellington. After retiring from the courtesan life at the age of 35 she wrote a number of novels as well as her scandalous MEMOIRS. Lesley Blanch, the editor of the present volume, was born in London, England, and has travelled over most of the globe. Her essays and articles have appeared in most of Britain's leading periodicals, including the OBSERVER and the NEW STATESMAN. She now lives in France.
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Top Customer Reviews
The hell they were! They were a fabulously b****y bawdy sarcastic bunch.
I nearly had an attack of the vapours at some points.
I had read the biography of Harriete Wilson ' The Courtesans Revenge' and realised that the most interesting bits of that book were the extracts from Harriettes' own memoirs so I duly ordered it and I was right.
She's a joy. Sharp, funny, wicked and a contrast of ruthlessness tempered with kindness.
Men paid large sums of money not to be mentioned in her memoirs.
The one's that wouldn't cough up such as the 'Publish and be damned' Duke of Wellington make for great reading but how I wish we could read her comments on the one's that did submit to her blackmail.
They must have had an awful lot to hide.
Harriette,( who when her younger sister Sophie took up with the love of Harriettes life Lord Ponsonby) would ensure that she sat in the opera box above Sophie's ....just so she could spit on her head.
This edition was published and edited in the late fifties and it shows. The lengthy introduction reveals quite a moralistic attitude, with no consideration of the sort a modern feminist might give, of the world of women "of that kind" and the options available to them. It also takes for granted a rather more detailed knowledge of French courtesans like La Paiva and Edwardian demi-reps than is actually likely today.
Harriette's memoirs are lively and clearly utterly unreliable, but enormous fun for anyone who knows their way round the history and literature of the period or, for that matter, is a Georgette Heyer fan! My advice is to skip the introduction and dive straight into the world of this silly, outrageous "Tart with a heart" of two centuries ago, which, as another reviewer says, could almost be culled from the pages of a modern celebrity scandal magazine.
But she's so breezily brazen that, like Becky, you turn the page to find out if she wins or loses.
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