The Real Lives of London's 18th Century Courtesans: Background information when reading The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

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The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar X
The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 496 pages
    Sep 10, 2019, 512 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Meara Conner
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About this Book

The Real Lives of London's 18th Century Courtesans

This article relates to The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock

Kitty Fisher (1741-1767), one of 18th century London's best known courtesansAngelica Neal, one of the central protagonists in The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, is a well-known, glamorous and beautiful courtesan (a high-priced prostitute or paid escort) to wealthy members of the London aristocracy. She lives a lavish lifestyle, purchasing the latest fashionable gowns, eating the most expensive treats and residing in one of the chicest neighborhoods in the city. The reality of life for most 18th century London courtesans, however, was not usually so extravagant.

Most English prostitutes of the era were born into poverty and denied virtually any opportunity for education. Their employment options were limited to low-paying jobs like seamstress or laundress, and if no such positions were available or they needed more money, they often resorted to prostitution. In most cases this was a temporary situation until better employment or an offer of marriage came along. A staggering number of women (it is estimated as many as one in five) worked in prostitution at...

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