THE GAME OF HEARTS, Harriette Wilson and her Memoirs | re-titled Regency England Undressed

LESLEY BLANCH: “Today, in America, the courtesan may be said to have been replaced by the psychoanalyst. In place of the alcove there is the analyst’s office. But basically the functions of both courtesan and analyst have the same principle. Both offer escape, relaxation and individual attention; both are expensive. And the couch is still there.”

The reigning courtesan of Regency London, Harriette Wilson’s patrons included many of the distinguished men of her day, from the Duke of Wellington to Lord Byron. Hard-pressed for money in middle age, her looks and youth gone, all she had left to sell were her memories. Deliberately written with an eye to blackmail, 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.

NEW YORKER: “An enriching introductory biographical essay . . . a valuable corrective to some of the recent attempts to present English Regency society as all elegance, common sense and rationality about sex”

Biography. John Murray, 1957, illus.
Regency England Undressed: Harriette Wilson, the Greatest Courtesan of her Age
by Lesley Blanch
UK edition: BookBlast ePublishing 108 pages £3.50 ISBN: 978-0993355226