Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Greatest Courtesan of Her Age” as Want to Read:
Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Greatest Courtesan of Her Age
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Greatest Courtesan of Her Age

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  93 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
19th century London produced a fine flowering of eccentrics and individualists. Chief among them was Harriette Wilson, whose patrons included most of the distinguished men of the day, from the Duke of Wellington to Lord Byron. She held court in a box at the opera, attended by statesmen, poets, national heroes, aristocrats, members of the beau monde, and students who hoped ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Orion Publishing (first published January 1st 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Harriette Wilson's Memoirs, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Harriette Wilson's Memoirs

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 498)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 07, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
I have to admit that this is not a book I would've picked up on my own. I like history but prefer the Middle Ages and the Tudor period. This book came in a set about women in history. I wanted the other books in the set.

It's very entertaining. It is impossible not to like Wilson. At times, she is funny. She writes, "I have one advantage over other bad females writers and prosing ladies, which is, that I do not think myself agreeable". Sometimes she is very modern in her comments on how society s
Apr 18, 2016 Anne rated it really liked it
I read this a couple of years ago for a paper that I wrote for a class on prostitution (gender history) and enjoyed it immensely. I found it absolutely fascinating to read how Harriette reflects upon herself and her life and to see how she positions herself as an independent woman in a patriarchal society. In general it fascinates me how 19th century courtisanes bended the rules of femininity in their time, constantly trying to find a balance between female virtues and vices.
Apr 19, 2007 Kecia rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: voyeurs
Wow! What a life! Harriette Wilson was the most promiment curtesan of her day. She was not a kept woman, but rather she kept men! I think the most fun thing about it is that she wrote her memoirs as she tells the most scandalous tales while still maintaining dignity. Her family, friends, true loves, bad lovers, and even Lord Byron all leap from the page out of the past and into your heart. A fun look into regency England.
From BBC Radio 4:
Nancy Carroll stars as Harriette Wilson, one of the most infamous and talked-about women of the early 19th century. Her lovers included aristocrats, adventurers and even the Duke of Wellington himself. And when they all ceased to support her after her retirement, she had a simple bargain for them - 'pay up, and I'll keep you out of my memoirs'.
Danielle Reily
This memoir was scatter-brained, unorganized, and very real. I found it refreshing, almost like listening to someone chat about their day. Hariette is real, she shows her life as she experienced it.
I would be interested in comparing Hariette's version of events to other people who knew her and the people and places she talks about. Her stories and accounts of the people around her are interesting and often funny or tragic. As intriguing as her stories are, they are based primarily on her perso
Jul 13, 2013 Erin rated it really liked it
It's a shame Harriette Wilson wasn't discovered as a writer in her youth. It was only when she became famous as a courtesan and published her memoirs that people seemed to care what she wrote. Wilson's writing is witty and funny, although she is, I think, somewhat arrogant about her desirability among men. My only hang-up so to speak was her constant French conversations that she did not bother to translate. I had this problem with the book, The Courtesans, as well. Perhaps the authors assume th ...more
Stephen Brooke
Feb 15, 2016 Stephen Brooke rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Somewhat interesting from an historical viewpoint, only moderately interesting as a narrative (although written well and charmingly). Rich and famous men chase after Harriette and vice versa. She likes some of her sisters and not the others. Think Jane Austen with no plot and more sex.

Wilson's actual writing is a good example of the fact that a great deal of description or concrete imagery is not necessary to create interest. The men and women here come alive with only a few deft words — that is
Jaymi Boswell
Mar 23, 2008 Jaymi Boswell rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who want a simple little book.
Recommended to Jaymi by: No se.
Shelves: biography
I don't know how or why I came into posession of this book. I took a very long time reading it. I kept it by my bed and would just read a page or two at night. The story itself is charming and cute. I love that period in history. She is the most adorable little tart who always has a new drama to talk about.
Alexander Van Leadam
Mar 03, 2016 Alexander Van Leadam rated it did not like it
The memoirs of this successful courtesan are interesting only historically - not because they describe important persons and their private lives but as an early version of tabloid kiss-and-tell nonsense. Who cares about the liaisons of this irritating woman with aristocratic idlers (with the exception of Wellington who despite Wilson's clear dislike from the start comes across rather more humane than the rest)? About the period we learn little and as for the life of a courtesan, I cannot say I h ...more
John Newcomb
I found it hard work at first, reading a gossip column/kiss and tell about folk I had little knowledge of. However with perseverance, this is a witty and intelligent account of a courtesan's life by a self taught woman writing in the style of Voltaire. I grew to love and admire Harriette and she was as good as her word. Her Wiki entry names four Prime Ministers and the Prince of Wales amongst her lovers, but only two Prime Ministers are named as such, they obviously failed her when she requested ...more
I just couldn't get through this book and have quit trying. The introduction by Lesley Blanch is very interesting but I think Harriette Wilson and Julia Johnson should have stuck with that which they did best.
Oct 03, 2014 Kristin-Leigh rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
It should not have been so much fun to read this! Wilson is pithy, witty, and detailed in her recollection of life in elite society.
Celia Kaltenbach-crotteau
Mar 10, 2016 Celia Kaltenbach-crotteau rated it really liked it
As I mentioned on my Facebook site - an edgy "Pride and Prejudice"!
D.G. Rampton
Mar 22, 2015 D.G. Rampton rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book for research purposes, however, I would not call it a thrilling page turner. The language of the period is a little laborious and the 'in jokes' are 200 years old, and yet there is a charm to Harriette Wilson's writing which stands the test of time. If you're a Regency aficionado, you'll revel in the period detail.
Aug 26, 2012 Liesl rated it really liked it
This charming book is like a slightly naughty Jane Austen novel.
else fine
Only made it halfway through.
Susan marked it as to-read
Oct 17, 2016
sapphicient marked it as to-read
Oct 12, 2016
Sara marked it as to-read
Oct 09, 2016
Emily marked it as to-read
Oct 06, 2016
Liz marked it as to-read
Oct 01, 2016
Sharon marked it as to-read
Sep 30, 2016
Sean Bothwell
Sean Bothwell marked it as to-read
Sep 25, 2016
Francesca Tripiedi
Francesca Tripiedi marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2016
Debbie Hoffman
Debbie Hoffman marked it as to-read
Sep 19, 2016
Pat marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2016
Courtney marked it as to-read
Sep 14, 2016
Gamal Hennessy
Gamal Hennessy marked it as to-read
Sep 12, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Courtesan’s Revenge
  • Courtesans: The Demi-Monde in Nineteenth Century France
  • Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style
  • Court Lady and Country Wife: Two Noble Sisters in Seventeenth-Century England
  • Elizabeth the Great
  • Unnatural Murder: Poison in the Court of James I
  • Grandes Horizontales: The Lives and Legends of Four Nineteenth-Century Courtesans
  • The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline
  • The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues
  • Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century
  • An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England
  • The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England
  • England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton
  • Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson
  • Mrs. Jordan's Profession: The Actress and the Prince
  • Cleopatra: A Biography
  • Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson
  • Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister of Georgiana

Share This Book

“I admire and look up to heroes, but indolent men make the best lovers.” 1 likes
More quotes…