Before Victoria - The Modern Venus: Politicians, Gamblers, Lovers, and Other Improper Ladies

The image satirizes the puffed-out and puffed-up styles of the mid-1780s, implying, as well, that underneath everything, all that matters about women is their sexuality.

The courtesan Harriette Wilson blackmailed former lovers—many of them rich and respectable—withholding their names from her 1825 Memoirs if they paid up. The book was issued in monthly installments, giving her time to negotiate.

Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, genteel Irishwomen who eloped to Wales, were famous for their romantic devotion to each other, and became known as the Ladies of Llangollen. Although obviously a couple, they were outraged and wounded by rumors that they were lovers.

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