Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies[1] (17571795) was a directory of prostitutes and their services. It sold over a quarter of a million copies over 38 years, a remarkable number for any book at that time.

Its full title reads Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies or Man of Pleasure’s Kalendar, which contained "an exact description of the most celebrated Ladies of Pleasure who frequent Covent garden and other parts of this Metropolis."

Despite its title, the work was actually written by an impoverished poet, Samuel Derrick, who drew his inspiration from the list of available women carried by the infamous pimp, or panderer, Jack Harris (aka John Harrison). The success of the work helped to free Derrick from debtor's prison. He later went on to become the second Master of Ceremonies at Bath after the death of Beau Nash. Jack Harris was arrested and imprisoned in Newgate Prison in 1758. Derrick secretly continued to edit the List until his death, when he passed the proceeds of his final edition to his former mistress, the courtesan and brothel-keeper, Charlotte Hayes (aka Kelly or O'Kelly). The authors of the List after 1769 are unknown.

In 2005 historian Hallie Rubenhold wrote an accessible history of the directory and its author in her book The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the Extraordinary Story of Harris' List, and later published a volume containing a selection of the directories "funniest, rudest and most surreal entries."

Excerpt

"Known in this quarter for her immense sized breasts, which she alternately makes use of with the rest of her parts, to indulge those who are particularly fond of a certain amusement. She is what you may call, at all; backwards and forwards, all are equal to her, posteriors not excepted, nay indeed, by her own account she has most pleasure in the latter. Very fit for a foreign Macaroni - entrance at the front door tolerably reasonable, but nothing less than two pound for the back way."

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