Philobiblon: Female realities

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Female realities

A couple more snippets from Sentimental Murder:

"The readers of Ann Sheldon's Memoirs must have felt that in London procurers were everywhere. Sheldon met her first bawd when a Mrs Horsham, a very respectable-looking woman, engaged her in polite conversation on a bench in St James's Park. She als became friendly with the fruit-seller who worked in the lobby of the House of Commons, and took fees from MPs in return for girls' names and addresses. .... In later years she turned bawd herself. ... She worked for Lord Grosvenor ... but was shocked by his taste for low life. She brought him poor girls from Westminster Bridge covered in vermin and was astonished at the medley of mistresses that filled his house: 'the garret was inhabited by pea-pickers - the first floor by a woman of elegance, - the parlour by women servants, - and the kitchen by a negro wench.'" (p.98)

The St James's Chronicle's view of Martha Ray, the "kept woman".

Her person was very fine, her face agreeable, and she had every Accomplishment that could adorn a woman, particularly those of Singing, and Playing most exquisitely on the Harpsichord. She was also highly respected by all those who knew her, especially att the Servants, and her death is most sincerely regretted in the Family. p. 52.
(Interesting that the servants' view was regarded as important.)


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