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Scarlet Women: The scandalous lives of courtesans, concubines, and royal mistresses

Scarlet Women tells the stories of the most notorious courtesans, concubines and royal mistresses. Its contents range from the ancient world to the present day, and from Europe and America to the Far East.

The extraordinary women featured in the book include:

• Cora Pearl, who served herself naked on a platter at her legendary parties;

• Harriette Wilson, who blackmailed her clients;

• Clara Ward, an American woman who married a Belgian prince and then ran away with a gypsy


• Klondike Kate, queen of the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush;

• Veronica Franco, the leading sixteenth century

Venetian courtesan;

• Mesdames de Pompadour and du Barry, two of Louis XV’s many mistresses;

• Nell Gwyn, the saucy orange-seller who captivated King Charles II;

• Marie Walewska, Napoleon Bonaparte’s reluctant mistress;

• Cixi, a concubine who rose from obscurity to rule China;

• La Belle Otero, the last of the great European courtesans.

Buy Ian Graham