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The fascinating true story behind the 18th century directory of Covent Garden prostitutes, known as HARRIS'S LIST and the inspiration behind ITV's hit drama HARLOTS

The book that inspired ITV's hit drama HARLOTS . . .

1757 - Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies, a salacious publication detaling the names and 'specialities' of the capital's prostitutes, eventually became one of the eighteenth century's most successful literary works as well as an essential accessory for any serious gentleman of pleasure.

Beyond its titillating passages lay a glimpse into the sex lives of those who lived and died by the List's profits during the Georgian era.

The Covent Garden Ladies tells the story of three unusual characters whose colourful lives were brought together by this publication.

Its story plunges the reader down the dark alleys of eighteenth-century London's underworld, a realm populated by tavern owners, pimps, punters, card sharks and of course, a colourful range of prostitutes and brothel-keepers.


Rubenhold proves herself both a keen researcher and a writer who understands narrative tension...a compelling and ingenious book


Scrupulously researched and cleverly structured... Among the scurrilous tales of 18th-century low life...this one is the most intriguing.

Daily Telegraph

A good story...impeccable...


Rubenhold's pages practically reek with smelly, pox-ridden Georgian Soho. She shows, with a complete lack of po-faced sermonising, the dangers of prostitution as well as the possibilities it offered, and she creates a narrative from the interrelated fortunes of her three main characters that crackles with drama and tension.


A fascinating exposé of the seamy side of 18th century life (awarded five stars)

Mail on Sunday

The Covent Garden Ladies has all the atmosphere and edge of a good novel combined with the erudition and scholarship of history at its best. With this magnificent debut Hallie Rubenhold deserves to storm the literary world.

Frances Wilson

A marvellous read – I absolutely loved these divinely irresistible rascals and the brilliant telling of their escapades.

Leonie Frieda

A scandalous tale

BBC History Magazine

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Formats & editions

  • EBook


    November 8, 2012

    Transworld Digital

    160 pages

    Online retailers

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Also by Hallie Rubenhold