List of prostitutes and courtesans

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This list of prostitutes and courtesans includes famous persons who have engaged in prostitution, pimping and courtesan work.


Nell Gwyn, ca 1675
Madame du Barry

Ancient world[edit]

Early Modern era[edit]

19th century[edit]

20th century[edit]


In literature[edit]

Vasantasena from the Sanskrit play Mṛcchakatika

Film, television, and musical theater[edit]

Symbolic or allegorical prostitutes[edit]

Myth and legend[edit]

  • Agatha - English prostitute, mother of Mother Shipton
  • Basileia (Ancient Greece) - in Pandemos, this goddess was mainly a goddess for prostitutes or courtesans[5]
  • Bebhinn (Celts of the British Isles) - the goddess of pleasure
  • Belili (Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Philistines, & Canaanites) - her worship required sacred prostitution
  • 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[6]
  • Naamah (Hebrews) - an angel of prostitution, one of the succubus mates of the demon Samael in Zoharistic Qabalah
  • Rahab, Biblical prostitute who assisted the Hebrews in capturing Jericho (Joshua 2:1-7)
  • Shamhat (Sumer/Babylon)[7]
  • 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, and often associated with Korrigan whose worship involved sacred prostitution[8]


  1. ^ Commire, Anne, ed. (2002). Women in World History: A biographical encyclopedia.
  2. ^ Suzy Favor Hamilton
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ O'Dowd, John. "Hollywood Bad Girl Barbara Payton".
  5. ^ McNeill, Maggie (23 December 2010). "Whore Goddesses". The Honest Courtesan. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  6. ^ Filteau, Jerry "Scholars seek to correct Christian tradition on Mary Magdalene," Catholic News Service May 1, 2006. [1]
  7. ^ Ditmore, Melissa Hope (ed), Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, Volume 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, pp.34-5.
  8. ^ Charles Squire Celtic Myth and Legend