Harriette Wilson

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Harriette Wilson
Harriette Wilson00.jpg
Portrait engraved by Cooper, from original drawing by Birch
Born 22 February 1786
Mayfair, London, England
Died 10 March 1845 (aged 59)
Chelsea, London, England
Nationality British
Occupation Courtesan, poet, memoirist
Spouse(s) William Henry Rochfort
Parent(s) John James Dubouchet
Amelia Cook Dubochet

Harriette Wilson (22 February 1786 – 10 March 1845) was a celebrated British Regency courtesan, whose clients included the Prince of Wales, the Lord Chancellor and four future Prime Ministers.


Harriette Dubouchet was one of the fifteen children of Swiss John James Dubouchet (or De Bouchet), who kept a small shop in Mayfair, England, and his wife Amelia, née Cook. Her father is said to have assumed the surname of Wilson about 1801. She began her career at the age of fifteen, becoming the mistress of William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven, 7th Baron Craven. Among her other lovers with whom she had business arrangements was Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who commented "publish, and be damned" when informed of her plans to write her memoirs.

Her decision to publish was partly based on the broken promises of her lovers to provide her with an income in her older age. The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson, Written By Herself, first published in 1825, are still in print. They are celebrated for their opening line: "I shall not say how and why I became, at the age of fifteen, the mistress of the Earl of Craven."[1]

Her sisters Amy, Fanny and Sophia also became courtesans. Sophia married respectably into the aristocracy, when she wed Lord Berwick at age 17.

Fictional portrayal[edit]

  • Harriette Wilson appears in the Jane Austen mystery novel, Jane and the Barque of Frailty, by Stephanie Barron. (Harriette and Jane Austen were contemporaries.)
  • Harriette Wilson's memoirs Publish and Be Damn'd: The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson was adapted for the BBC Radio 4 series Classic Serial by Ellen Dryden and broadcast in June 2012


  • Frances Wilson (2003) The Courtesan's Revenge: The Life of Harriette Wilson, the Woman Who Blackmailed the King. London: Faber & Faber ISBN 0-571-20504-6
  • Harriette Wilson's Memoirs: The Greatest Courtesan of her Age; selected and edited with an introduction by Lesley Blanch. London: John Murray, 1957[2]
  • Valerie Grosvenor Myer (with an introduction by Sue Limb): Harriette Wilson, Lady of Pleasure. Ely: Fern House, 1999


  1. ^ The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson (Project Gutenberg).
  2. ^ Also published as: The Game of Hearts: Harriette Wilson and her Memoirs (edited and introduced by Lesley Blanch), London: Gryphon Books, 1957.--Harriette Wilson's Memoirs; selected and edited by Lesley Blanch (introduction: pp. 3–59; The lady and the game; Harriette Wilson's memoirs: pp. 61–442). London: Phoenix Press, 2003

External links[edit]