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Publisher's Summary

The book that inspired BBC 2’s Harlots, now with a new preface read by the author. 

From the best-selling author of The Five

1757 - Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies, a salacious publication detailing the names and 'specialties' of the capital's prostitutes, eventually became one of the 18th 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 listener down the dark alleys of 18th-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. 

©2005 Hallie Rubenhold (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Rubenhold proves herself both a keen researcher and a writer who understands narrative tension...a compelling and ingenious book." (The Independent)

"Scrupulously researched and cleverly structured.... Among the scurrilous tales of 18th-century low life...this one is the most intriguing." (The Daily Telegraph)  

What listeners say about The Covent Garden Ladies

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Profile Image for Mr Chops
  • Mr Chops
  • 27-10-2019

Too repetitive

I only got the chapter 4, but got bored by hearing the same info repeated in a slightly different way, over and over. For instance : Samuel was supposed to become a Draper but wanted to be a poet.
I know repetition is an often employed technique in cheap tv documentaries but personally I find the style tedious, others may not notice it.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-01-2020

Dull

I was really hoping I would enjoy this book, as I loved Hallie Rubens other book, The Five.
This started quite well but became tedious as it just turned into an account of prostitutes. It felt like it was literally just being read out from an old account book.
Not for me still have 5 hrs listing left on this but think I will pass.

20 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Nathalie P
  • Nathalie P
  • 23-09-2020

3 stars

An interesting book, but unfortunately as there is scarce information on the lives of the Ladies, the author had to focus on the better recorded histories of the two men who created the List. This is a shame, because their stories aren't half as interesting as any of women mentioned. I really didn't need to hear whole chapters on Samuel Derrick's pre-London life.
As an audiobook, the narrator is excellent, and it was a pleasure to listen to.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Samantha cross
  • 12-10-2019

Interesting and emotional

A book that pulls you in to care about the characters in the list and their lives . It’s an insight into a world that is brushed over by history. I would recommend this read

4 people found this helpful

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  • Inna Barneva
  • 24-08-2020

worth the money

Lovely book, very interesting. Very captivating story and the narration was good . Definitely recommend

3 people found this helpful

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  • J. Webb
  • 20-01-2021

Fascinating history

I found this book fascinating. An in-depth study of the prostitutes, pimps, pubs and theatres around Covent Garden in the mid to late 18th century. Hogarth’s period is brought vividly to life. It also gives a real insight into the lives of the poor in the period; particularly the virtually non-existent choice of occupation open to many girls and women living in London.

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  • Zara612
  • 01-10-2020

Fascinating story of 18th c underworld

The narration was beautiful but not so well edited as it changed volume and texture at random intervals.

But the book itself was a fascinating read, a surprising history of a group of people whose voices you’d never normally hear.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Carmel J.
  • 20-03-2021

I adored the narration, fabulous book

Emily Pennant-Rea narration brought the this very historically accurate book to life, her voice was perfect for this book. A true strength of this book is that Rubenhold stayed as close to recorded history as she could yet still managed to create wonderful narrative with characters I was fascinated by. It does over glamorise a deeply sad part of history and society, but while listening I was transported back to Georgian London.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Calico Pye
  • 15-06-2021

Rivetting

An eye opener! The author's use of language weaves intrigue into the world of 18th century prostitution.

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  • Sian M.
  • 14-06-2021

Takes from the sex trade of the 1750s

Bringing to life the long dead ladies who were recorded, lauded and maligned by Harris’ list. Some errors in the presentation but a fascinating listen.

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