List of prostitutes and courtesans
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- Aspasia, Greek hetaera, companion of Pericles
- Phryne, Greek hetaera
- Rahab, biblical prostitute who assisted the Hebrews in capturing Jericho (Joshua 2:1-7)
- Su Xiaoxiao, Chinese courtesan of the 5th century
- Thaïs, Greek hetaera who lived during the time of Alexander the Great
- Theodora, Empress of Byzantium
- Gomer, a prostitute whom God commanded Hosea to marry in the biblical Book of Hosea.
- Mary Magdalene was supposed to have been a prostitute by those who identified her with the sinful woman in Luke 7:36–50, an identification now generally abandoned.
- Lizzie Lape, mid-Ohio madam, owner of the White Pigeon saloon and house in Warren G. Harding's Marion, Ohio, and operator of multiple bordellos, 1880s-1900s
- Polly Adler, New York madam, 1920s - 1940s
- Josie Arlington, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
- Laura Bell, the "Queen of London whoredom"
- Cassandra, the "Golden Heels Madamme" <La Tacón Dorado> Tijuana, B.C. México 1940's - 1980's many American tourist included some politicians used to cross the border between California and Tijuana to have a special love night with Cassandra, specially during the 1950s
- Theresa Berkeley, 19th-century dominatrix
- Karan, lover of King Francis as well as King Henry VIII, the French king referred to her as "The English Mare"
- Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman
- Annie Chapman, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Madame du Barry, mistress to Louis XV of France
- Veronica Franco, Venetian courtesan and poet
- Nell Gwyn, courtesan to Charles II of England
- Xaviera Hollander, author of the memoir The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.
- Mary Jane Kelly, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Carol Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlot Harlot, coined the term "sex worker"
- Mata Hari (born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), Dutch spy
- Mary Ann Nichols, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Barbara Payton, American actress turned prostitute
- Shady Sadie (Josephine Marcus) Courtesan who had an affair with Wyatt Earp
- Annie Sprinkle, American sex worker, porn star, and sex educator and writer
- Chica da Silva, famous eighteenth-century slave courtesan in Brazil, subject of the movie Xica.
- Elizabeth Stride, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Martha Tabram, a possible victim of Jack the Ripper
- Valérie Tasso, French author
- Libby Thompson, "Squirrel Tooth Alice," madam of a brothel in Sweetwater, Texas
- Clara Ward, Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, daughter of a Michigan lumberman who spent most of her life in Europe
- Lulu White, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
- Brooke Magnanti, blogger and scientist who wrote as Belle de Jour and was the inspiration for Billie Piper's character in Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
- Suzy Favor-Hamilton, 3 time Olympian for Track and Field, and the subject of intense publicity when her activities as an escort became public.
- Air Force Amy,a legal prostitute in Nevada, pornographic actress, and adult model, who starred in of the HBO television documentary series Cathouse: The Series. MSNBC has called her "a living legend in the world of sex."
- Sheila Vogel-Coupe, at 85+ the oldest prostitute in the United Kingdom and, possibly, the world.
- Bella Cohen, Florry, & Zoe, in Ulysses by James Joyce
- Belle, Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill
- Belle Watling, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Candy, in Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction by Luke Davies
- Candy, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
- Chandramukhi, in Devdas
- Eccentrica Gallumbits, "The Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
- Elisabeth Rouset, in Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant
- Fanny Hill, in Fanny Hill, by John Cleland
- Fantine, in Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
- Lady Sally, a.k.a. Callahan's Lady
- Marguerite Gautier, from Alexandre Dumas, fils' work La Dame aux camélias, inspired by real life Marie Duplessis, 19th century courtesan
- Jenny Smith, in Kurt Weill's Mahagonny and Threepenny Opera
- Juliette, in the Marquis de Sade's Juliette
- Kamala, in Siddhartha
- Lozana, Portrait of Lozana by Francisco Delicado
- Lulu, in Frank Wedekind's plays and Alban Berg's opera of the same name
- Mistress Overdone, manager of a bordello in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare.
- Moll Flanders, The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
- Molly Malone, Irish urban legend
- Mother Goose, in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress
- Nana, Nana, by Émile Zola
- Nancy, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- Odette, in Marcel Proust's Un amour de Swann
- Phedre no Delauny of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels
- Pie 'Oh' Pah, from Imajica by Clive Barker
- Romulus, central character in The Romanian: Story of an Obsession by Bruce Benderson
- Mrs. Rosie Palm, brothel owner and president of the Guild of "Seamstresses" in various Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett
- Satine, in Moulin Rouge! by Baz Luhrmann, a story based on the Paris nightclub of the same name.
- Séverine Serizy, in the 1928 novel Belle de Jour and the 1967 film based on it
- Mamie Stover, The Revolt of Mamie Stover by William Bradford Huie
- Sonya Marmeladova, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Suzie Wong, from The World of Suzie Wong
- Talanta, La Talanta by Pietro Aretino
- Thúy Kiều, The Tale of Kieu by Nguyễn Du
- Tra La La, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby
- Tristessa, Tristessa by Jack Kerouac
- Vasantsenaa, a Nagarvadhu, or wealthy courtesan, in Śudraka's Sanskrit play, Mṛcchakatika.
- Yumi Komagata, in Rurouni Kenshin, by Nobuhiro Watsuki
- Zaza, in Zaza by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon
In film, television, and musical theater
- Belle de jour, Belle de jour by Luis Buñuel
- Irma la Douce, central character in film and musical of the same name
- Inara Serra, Firefly by Joss Whedon
- Mrs. Miller, in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, by Robert Altman
- Vivian Ward, central character in Pretty Woman
- Belle the Sleeping Car, train in "Starlight Express" by Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Donna, in Tricks, by DeAara Lewis
- Iris, central character in the 1976 film "Taxi Driver"
Maggie Thorpe, Dorothy Bennett and Blanche Simmons in Tenko are all to some degree prostitutes.
Symbolic or allegorical prostitutes
- The Whore of Babylon
- Oholah and Oholibah
- Moll Hackabout, the prostitute in The Harlot's Progress by William Hogarth
Prostitutes in myth and legend
- Agatha - English prostitute, mother of Mother Shipton
- Basileia (Ancient Greece) - in Pandemos, this goddess was mainly a goddess for prostitutes or courtesans
- Bebhinn (Celts of the British Isles) - the goddess of pleasure
- Belili (Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Philistines, & Canaanites) - her worship required sacred prostitution
- The daughters in the Saint Nicholas legend (Asia Minor) - they were sold to a brothel keeper by their father
- Naamah (Hebrews) - an angel of prostitution, one of the succubus mates of the demon Samael in Zoharistic Qabalah
- Shamhat (Sumer/Babylon)[clarification needed]
- Xochiquetzal (Aztecs) - the goddess of prostitutes, pregnant women, & dancing
- Alexandra Dé Broussehan (Irish Celts) - a woman turned spirit of prostitution, caused a war between the Callahan and Lawlor Clans. Often associated with Korrigan whose worship involved sacred prostitution
- Filteau, Jerry "Scholars seek to correct Christian tradition on Mary Magdalene," Catholic News Service May 1, 2006. 
- Welcome to the World of Scarlot Harlot, her own web site, accessed 28 August 2006; Carol Leigh, Unrepentant Whore: Collected Works Of Scarlot Harlot, Last Gasp, 2004.
- O'Dowd, John. "Hollywood Bad Girl Barbara Payton".
- Suzy Favor Hamilton
- Charles Squire Celtic Myth and Legend