ISBN is

978-0-00-711391-0 / 9780007113910

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About the book:

This title tells of the extraordinary lives and times of a small group of women who, during the course of the 19th century, rose from impoverished obscurity to become some of the most powerful, independent and wealthy women the world had ever seen. These were women who 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 a courtesan was always courted for far more than sex. In an age in which women were generally not well educated, a courtesan was often unusually literate and literary and so was courted for her conversation as well as her physical company. Courtesans were extremely accomplished and, in the 19th century, exerted a powerful influence as leaders of fashion and society. They were not received at Court, and inhabited their own parallel world - the demi-monde - complete with its own hierarchies, etiquette and protocol, but nonetheless even to be seen in public with one of the great courtesans was a much-envied achievement. This text focuses on the stories of four outstanding women, each told as a mini-biography. Harriet Wilson, Lola Montez, Cora Pearl and Catherine Walters were women of very different personalities and talents. Spanning just over a 100 years, their lives exemplify the dazzling existence of the courtesan. They were admired by many, queens of fashion, linguists, musicians, accomplished at political intrigue and, of course, possessors of great erotic gifts.

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