Julia Brown

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"A Grand Ball with Julia Brown", from the New York Flash, 1843

Julia Brown was an American madam and prostitute active in mid-nineteenth century New York City. Brown has been described as "the best-known prostitute in antebellum America".[1]:p71 She became a popular subject of tourist guidebooks, and her name appears often in diaries from the period.[1]:p84

In the 1830s, Brown entered a brothel owned by Adeline Miller, a well-known New York madam. She did not stay long, however; soon Brown was running brothels of her own on Chapel and Church Streets. One brothel was partially destroyed when the neighboring National Theater burnt down in 1841. By the next year, Brown had opened a new house on Leonard Street, stocked with furniture she had salvaged from the ruined playhouse. This quickly became the most famous brothel in New York City.[1]:p71 Fanny White, a.k.a. Jane Augusta Blankman once worked in Brown's brothel.[2]

Despite her illicit occupation, Brown was a darling of the New York upper class. She received invitations to social galas across New York City, and her admirers nicknamed her Princess Julia.[1]:p71 She sometimes threw balls of her own in the winter as a way to attract new patrons. Charles Dickens reportedly visited her on a trip through America.[1]:p71 The penny press also followed her exploits; the major criticism levied against her was that the cut she took from her girls' earnings was too large.[1]:p71


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gilfoyle, Timothy J. (1992). City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790—1920. New York: W. W. Norton & Company Inc.
  2. ^ The Life and Death of Fanny White: Being a Complete and Interesting History of the Career of That Notorious Lady, New York, 1860. p. 7. Retrieved 21 December 2011.