Welcome! I was just accepted into a new group called Romance Writer’s weekly. I am very excited to jump into the fray this week and be part of the weekly blog hop. Each week a member comes up with a topic and we all write on the same topic, then we put a link to the bottom of our post sending the reader to the next blog. This week’s topic is thanks to A.S. Fenichel www.asfenichel.com. Her question was what some interesting things are we learned while doing research for our books.
I write historicals so I am always having to research something. For a book that I am in the throws of plotting as we speak my heroine has chosen the life of a courtesan instead of the life of a Duke’s daughter.
When I first got the idea my logical brain said, no. This will not work, who chooses to become a courtesan when they were born into the highest echelons of society. I questioned this because I knew my readers would question this. As I read about the women who are famous for their industry, I realized why it might be something to draw a young woman of privilege, but also of expectations for her life. Expectations that might be counter to their own desires about life.
We Americans like to think we invented the reality tv star. Those people who are famous for being famous and nothing else. We are glued to the tv or Instagram watching what they will do next. Many of them have increased their own fortunes for capitalizing on their fame and creating clothing lines, or makeup collections.
The interesting thing I learned in my research was that the Regency Courtesan was the reality stars of their day. They were watched and ogled by the masses to see what they wore, where they chose to spend their time, who they spent their time with, and what they did. In fact, a few of them saw the publicity they got and would do outlandish things for the attention it would garner.
Kitty Fisher was a prime example. She was so popular crowds would gather just to watch her eat dinner in her private box at Vauxhall. She even became embroiled in a very public feud with Lord Coventry’s wife Maria Gunning, who came into the marriage by way of a scheming mother. There is an account of the two of them meeting in public by chance and Lady Coventry asked her the maker of her dress, by which Kitty told her to ask her husband, because he gave it to her as a gift.
Harriette Wilson is another famous courtesan, along with two of her sisters as well. Harriette became famous when she published her memoirs in 1825 naming names and taking no prisoners. It is reported that she chose to publish because she felt she had not been paid enough to afford her retirement.
One other interesting thing I learned was that many young women came to the profession, because it was one of the only ways a woman could be independent and not withholden to a man.
Harriette Wilson came from a very unhappy home and she decided at the age of 10 that she would “live free as air from any restraint but that of my conscience.” Kitty earned enough she had liveried servants.
While the life of a courtesan was fraught with danger, pain, and heartbreak these women took it on and though they were never invited into the drawing rooms of haute ton for tea, they surely influenced the fashions, politics, and other cultural things of the day.
I am excited to bring this new heroine to you all, and I will share other interesting things as I find them out.
Now, let’s keep this blog hop rolling, shall we? Next up is my fellow Haute Ton Reader Society author, Christina Alexandra. She has a cover reveal happening on Monday in the Haute Ton Reader Society Facebook group. If you want to check it out come join us for all sorts of historical fun, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hautetonreadersociety/
But, make sure you also pop over to Christina’s blog and see what interesting things she has learned from her own research.