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Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Memoirs of the Reigning Courtesan of Regency London

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Memoirs of the Reigning Courtesan of Regency London.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Harriette Wilson(Author) Lesley Blanch(Editor)

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Nineteenth century London produced a fine flowering of eccentrics and individualists. Chief among them was Harriette Wilson, whose patrons included most of the distinguished men of the day, from the Duke of Wellington to Lord Byron. She held court in a box at the opera, attended by statesmen, poets, national heroes, aristocrats, members of the beau monde, and students who hoped to be immortalised by her glance. She wrote these memoirs in middle age, when she had fallen out of favour. She advised her former lovers that for 200 she would edit them out. 'Publish and be damned!' retorted the Duke of Wellington. The result is an elegant, zestful, unrepentant memoir, which offers intimately detailed portraits of the Regency demimonde. First published in 1957.

Harriette Wilson's MemoirsThese 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 200Publish 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.

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Review Text

  • By J. A. Johnson on 27 May 2014

    You know when you watch a period drama and women are all fluttering eyelashes, coy looks and decorum?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.Great character!

  • By Need me some tunes on 24 November 2010

    This is a lovely book written by a lovely, articulate woman who both took advantage of her age and was taken advantage of by it. The editor provides an insightful amount of front matter tying together some social, political and sociological information to give a setting for Harriette's story. I write Regency romances, and this material was wonderfully helpful in providing insights into the age, and particularly into the wealthy, titled men fortunate enough to thrive in it and know Harriette. The book was also an interesting portrait of the difference between a woman who was purposefully attractive on many levels--a true courtesan--and what modern women do with their gender role. It should also be noted that Harriette manages to prose on at great length without ever once lapsing into the truly intimate. She hints, she innuendos (spending time with the Duke of Wellington was described as "very uphill work,") but she never quite opens the bedroom door. A lovely, lovely book.Grace Burrowes

  • By Guest on 16 November 2009

    Harriette Wilson is notoriously the woman of pleasure who blackmailed her former lovers - if they paid up they avoided detailed mention in her memoirs. The Duke of Wellington had no truck with this - his memorable response, "Publish and be damned!" is nowadays more famous than the book and woman who inspired it.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.

  • By microfiche on 17 October 2005

    I think this is the book Thackery's Becky Sharpe would have written if she was not a fictional character. The differences between her society (and century) and ours makes her prose a little hard to follow - and you know you can't believe all she wrote. I think she didn't expect her readers to swallow it whole because 1)who would but the book if there was ho hum and little scandal in it? and 2)she was trying to extort hush money so she had to write something worth hushing up.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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