ALH Anna Lee Huber

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Research Topic - Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies
September 6, 2011

I recently stumbled upon an article about this ultimate little black book. It’s a sort-of definitive guide for gentlemen about the town looking for a lovely lady’s company. A fallen, lovely lady’s company. 

During the mid to late Georgian period, between the years of 1757 to 1795, Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies was published annually as a directory of prostitutes in the Covent Garden area of London. It was a small, pocketbook with listings for between 120-190 prostitutes, cataloging their physical appearance and sexual specialties. 
 
While most of the listings were complimentary towards the ladies listed, some are harsh and critical, making the reader wonder if the prostitute in question had done something to turn the authors against them. Each woman’s listing included things like age, physical appearance (including descriptions of intimate areas), lists of services provided, and prices. It also cataloged additional skills, such as whether the prostitute could sing, or dance, or converse well. Sometimes the entries were written in flowery prose to describe lurid details about the women’s anatomy, speaking of “tufted groves” and “snowy orbs.” The book also recounted amorous encounters between the prostitutes and famous personages, obviously as a form of recommendation. 
 
Throughout the printings, the authors remained anonymous, even though there was rampant speculation on their identity. Samuel Derrick is most often credited with the initial design, having been inspired by Jack Harris, a Covent Garden pimp. The book grew in popularity each year, selling 8,000 copies in 1791. However, by 1795 public opinion had turned against the sex trade, and those thought to be involved with Harris’s List were fined and imprisoned, making that year’s edition the last.



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