The Syphilitic Whores of Georgian London
People think I’m obsessed with syphilis, and maybe I am. But it’s only because of my recent indoctrination into 18th-century history by aficionados of the period, such as Lucy Inglis,Adrian Teal and Rob Lucas. I can’t read 10 pages of a medical casebook without coming across a reference to lues venerea. By the end of the century, London was literally crawling with the pox.
And it’s no surprise. Sexual promiscuity was as much a part of Georgian England as were powdered wigs and opium. For a few pennies, a gentleman could pick up Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, or Man of Pleasure’s Kalendar—a pocket guide to London’s prostitutes published annually starting in 1771—and peruse it as he might do a fine wine list.