Life as a courtesan begins to age, and lose her fame

Harriette_Wilson00Oh Harriette, I owe you so much, thank you for the words you put down on paper nearly two hundred years ago, your inspiration gave me a number one book! 😀

There is not all that much left of Harriette’s story now, we are drawing towards the end, but I now know several things she left out of her memoirs that I will share with you when I finish her story as she told it, but until then let’s carry on, and, as always, if you are new to this series of posts today, here’s the history behind them, and if you have read this before just skip to the words highlighted in bold.

In 1825 Harriette Wilson, a courtesan, published a series of stories as her memoirs in a British broad sheet paper. The Regency gentleman’s clubs were a buzz, waiting to see the next names mentioned each week. While barriers had to be set up outside the shop of her publisher, Stockdale, to hold back the disapproving mob.

Harriette was born Harriette Debochet, she chose the name Harriette Wilson as her professional name, in the same way Emma Hart, who I’ve blogged about previously, had changed her name. Unlike Emma, it isn’t known why or when Harriette changed her name.

She was one of nine surviving children. Her father was a watchmaker and her mother a stocking repairer, and both were believed to be from illegitimate origin.

Three of Harriette’s sisters also became courtesans. Amy, Fanny and Sophia (who I have written about before). So the tales I am about to begin in my blogs will include some elements from their lives too.

For a start you’ll need to understand the world of the 19th Century Courtesan. It was all about show and not just about sex. The idle rich of the upper class aspired to spending time in the company of courtesans, it was fashionable, the thing to do.

You were envied if you were linked to one of the most popular courtesans or you discovered a new unknown beauty to be admired by others.

Courtesans were also part of the competitive nature of the regency period too, gambling was a large element of the life of the idle rich and courtesans were won and lost and bartered and fought for.

So courtesans obviously aspired to be one of the most popular, and to achieve it they learnt how to play music, read widely, so they could debate, and tried to shine in personality too. They wanted to be a favoured ’original’.

The eccentric and outspoken was admired by gentlemen who liked to consort with boxers and jockeys, and coachmen, so courtesans did not aim for placid but were quite happy to insult and mock men who courted them, and demand money for any small favour.

Last week, I told you, or rather Harriette told us, about Fanny’s breakup with Colonel Parker, this week, Harriette relates a letter Fanny sent to her while she was in Paris, letting her know how things went on in London.

Fanny talks about her own loss, and says that Colonel Parker has called to visit his child twice, since his marriage, and is still supporting the child. She is writing sitting on the bed in his old room, ‘Methinks the bed looks like a tomb.’ She sounds empty hearted, and she says later in her letter that another man has been making love to her… ‘The other day, he said something to me which I fancied so truly harsh, coarse, and indelicate, that it produced a violent hysterical affection, which I found it impossible to subdue.

Ward wanted me to submit to something I conceived improper. When I refused, he said, with much fierceness of manner, such as my present weak state of nerves made me ill able to bear, ‘D––––d affection’ Obviously poor Fanny, was facing a need to find another man to support her, when she did not really want to be with another man, and like Harriette she was getting older and her choice of men narrower. The nice men everyone wanted would be in the enthrall of the new women on the market, the younger courtesans.

The other third of the ‘three graces’ which is what they had been called at the height of the their fame, Julia Storer, was doing little better. The young Mr Napier, who’d fallen for her some years before was still devoted, but was tight.

‘Napier’s passion for Julie continues increase. I will not call it love or affection, else why does he, with his twenty thousand a year suffer her to be so shockingly distressed? On the very day you left England, Julia had an execution in her house and the whole of her furniture was seized. I really thought she would have destroyed herself. I insisted on her going down to Mr Napier at Melton by that very night’s mail, to whom I wrote, earnestly entreating him to receive her with tenderness, such as the wretched state of her mind required. A man of Mr Napier’s sanguine temperament was sure to receive any fine woman with rapture, who came to him at Melton Mowbray, where petticoats are so scarce and so dirty; but, if he had really loved her, he surely would have immediately paid all her debts, which do not amount to a thousand pounds, as well as, ordered her upholsterer to new-furnish her house.

Would you believe it? Julia has returned with merely cash or credit enough to procure little elegant necessaries for Napier’s dressing-room, and, for the rest, her drawing-room is covered with a piece of green baize, and, in lieu of all her beautiful knick-nacks and elegant furniture, she has two chairs, an old second-hand sofa, and a scanty yellow cotton curtain. Her own bed was not seized, it is now the only creditable piece of furniture in the house of Napier’s adored mistress, one of the richest commoners in England, who is the father of her infant.’

Their days of fame and complete adoration have truly past.

Next week, to cover her back, Harriette is caught up in a love triangle…

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romances, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Why not also read A Lord’s Desperate Love the story of two of the characters from The Passionate Love of a rake which Jane is telling for free here, access each part on the index of posts. 

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

A Lord’s Desperate Love Part Six ~ A Historical Romance Story

Before I share the next part of Geoff’s and Violet’s story, I just want to say, “Thank you.”  to anyone who bought The Illicit Love of a Courtesan this week, or ever left a review, because those two elements were the things that saw it rocketing up the US Kindle chart this week, it hit number 22 and became the No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America for three days. An amazing experience, to see that happen, having worked so hard for the last few years. “Thank you!”

But anyway. Forget that. Now it’s time so share the next chapter in A Lord’s Desperate Love. 🙂

A Lord’s Desperate Love

A Historical Romance Story

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

It meant another restless night in the inn. Yet his heart suddenly flared with warmth as hope surged in – he’d see her tomorrow. Tomorrow. If this woman was her?

It had to be her.

Mayer? He was sure the name had some connection to her. He knew it for some reason. But why would she change her name, and why go by Mrs and not by her title?

What or who was she running or hiding from? Him?

All he felt inside was confusion.

His boot slipped on the cobble, making him stumble, but he didn’t fall. He slowed his pace. The mist was clinging to his coat and in his hair. All he could really see was the ground beneath his boots and an eerie glow reaching through the murky grey from any lights burning in the shop windows as he walked further up Queen St. He turned into Quiet St, his hands curling into fists in his now damp greatcoat. Lamplight shone through the grey, drawing his eyes to a small jewellers shop on the left. The shop attendant was busy lifting trays of rings from the window.

A deep seated need pulled Geoff toward it and he pushed the door open. A bell rang above it. The shop assistant, who was leaning over slipping trays into drawers, looked up sharply, then straightened. “We are just closing, sir.”

“My Lord,” Geoff corrected, “and I am just going to make a purchase. You’ll stay open. I want a ring, an engagement ring.” When he found Violet, he was not letting her escape again. She would know how he felt if he had already thought of this.

“My Lord,” the man acknowledged bowing slightly, and then he bent down again and lifted a tray from below then placed it on the shop counter.

“I want sapphires. She has blue eyes. Sapphires and diamonds.”

The shop assistant lifted one eyebrow but bent again, then set another tray beside the other. “Their maybe something here you like, my Lord.”

Geoff scanned the rings nestled in midnight blue velvet. They glinted at him all calling to be picked. Ruby, emerald… Sapphire. He knew most of Violet’s jewellery was sapphires. Sapphires must be her preference.

A ring stood out. The gold was woven like threads with blue and clear stones shining from between the strands. Sapphires and diamonds. He picked it up. It was tiny to his large hand.

A memory of once playing with one of her rings, crept into his thoughts. It had been a long time ago, just after he’d met her, when she’d seemed like an ethereal being, all testing, brash confidence and beauty.

He slipped the ring onto the tip of his little finger and tried to visualise the comparison to when he had done the same with one of her rings. It seemed a similar size.

It had to be the choice. The one meant for her. It would fit perfectly.

“I’ll take this one.”

The attendant set it in a velvet bed, in a leather box, and passed it to Geoff as Geoff handed him the money.

The shop bell rang again as Geoff left.

When he’d tried one of Violet’s rings on, it had been the first night he’d slept with her. He walked back to the inn through the mist, remembering that night.

She’d propositioned him. He’d been looking. But she’d spoken.

She had walked past him and run her fingertips across his midriff. Then across the room she’d fluttered her fan and looked over the top as he’d stood transfixed for an age.

She was stunningly beautiful.

When he’d made no move after an hour she’d worked her way about the room, stopping here and there talking and laughing, and then she had walked up to him.

Her fan had snapped shut and then she had tapped his arm, and she’d said with a seductive smile and a glint in her eyes, “You look like a man who enjoys his entertainment, Sparks. I bet you play a good hand. Do you fancy a game?” Of course she had not been speaking of cards.

His heart had thumped as he’d answered. “Where?”

“My house I think. I do not fancy your bachelor apartments.”

God he could still remember the sudden heat which had burned in his veins and the weight in his groin at the very idea.

She was bold and domineering, and he had been bloody devoted.

In the carriage she had not let him touch her or kiss her, all the time building a burning tension between them.

He’d been constantly aware of where her hands were. When they’d brushed the fabric of her dress he’d felt a tremor run through him.

He’d been even more aware of the lift and fall of her bodice as she’d breathed, while she laid out the rules. “You are not to read any favour into it, Sparks, you understand…”

He’d nodded, not giving a damn, just thinking of lifting her bloody skirt. He’d heard how good she was, rumours about her had circulated men’s clubs. He knew others she’d been with, and no one ever complained about her rules.

“I wish to be treated well, Sparks. I do not expect to be looked at as if I am your discarded linen after this.”

He could remember smiling at that. She could hardly be compared to dirty linen, she was the most beautiful creature he’d ever set eyes on.

“We are equals in this, I do not wish you plying me with prose or…”

She had rambled on the whole way, drawing lines in the sand he wasn’t supposed to cross. When they’d reached her house he’d climbed down first and offered his hand. She’d accepted it, her small fingers clutching his. They were so delicate.

They’d had a nightcap and then he’d thought it time to take the reins from her hands. He’d lifted her glass from her fingers and covered her mouth with his to shut her up. Violet. He ached to kiss her now as he remembered.

That first time had been sheer bliss. It had never been the same with other women, and he’d had other women before and after. There had been several casual liaisons since, but none quite like the first. She had been fire and ice, and earth and wind that night.

The first time he’d taken her had been on the floor in her drawing-room, with a fire blazing beside them, its light warming her skin and turning it amber. But before he’d got that far she had been on her knees worshipping him in a way a decent woman should not, her fingers running over his torso and brushing over the hairs on his thighs like she simply could not get enough of him.

When he’d pressed into her heat, an uncontrollable hunger had ripped through him, and he couldn’t get deep enough or work fast enough. It had been excruciating, delicious, blissful pleasure. He’d driven into her like an unleashed animal and she’d cried out as her fingernails clawed into his skin. He’d made her break numerous times, with her thighs gripping his hips and the breath of her cries caressing his neck.

His coming had been something monumental but not the end of their first night. Their second encounter had come after half a bottle of wine, which they’d shared lying naked before the fire. It had been in a chair. He could still feel her sitting astride him and undulating in a rhythm which had enthralled. His fingertips had pressed into her thighs, while she had bitten his neck.

There had been a third time. In the morning. In her bed. That time had been achingly slow and beautiful and he’d felt the tremors of her pleasure racing through her body as he’d touched the skin covering her ribs and seen in the daylight just how beautiful the magnificent woman was.

She’d bathed while he’d languished in her bed, watching, mesmerised by her lack of care for others opinions. Her maid and the footmen had come and gone, filling a bath for her, while he’d remained in her bed.

Before she’d got into the tub, she’d taken off the rings which she’d worn the night before and left them on the chest beside her bed. He’d picked one up, surprised by just how tiny it was and played with it while she talked, laughing at him from her relaxed pose in the water.

Even then he’d known what a precious thing he’d found.


A Lord’s Desperate Love is the  story of two of the characters from the 2nd book in the Marlow Intrigues Series ~ ‘The Passionate Love of a Rake’.

The true story of a courtesan, who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, which I’ve been telling every Sunday, will continue alongside this.

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.

Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark