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Raised in a brothel, her mother was a whorehouse madam. People were afraid of venereal diseases, people were obsessed with youth and so this was a highly erotic, pleasurable experience. They had methods by which they could pretend it had been restored, they had recipes for how to tighten the walls of the vagina [using] various herbs.
The guidebooks are thought to be named after John Harris — also known as John Harrison — who was a pimp working at the Shakespeares Head pub in Covent Garden. Sam Derrick, a Grub Street hack, turned the ledger into a money making scheme, according to Rubenhold.
It was sold year after year and continued even after Derrick died. The authors thereafter remained anonymous. In some ways prostitution was more normalised in the 18th century, says Rubenhold.
She has been, however, a good while in eclipse; and is said to have chosen Scotland Yard, for the salubrity of the air, which might, in other parts of town, be thickened by the rude breath of clamourous creditors. It is said, she was the only woman he ever was fond of; and that he squandered a good deal of money upon her. She is said never to have loved any man in her life but to be very extravagant. Rubenhold says that prostitution fulfilled something of a public service.
Hayes soon became one of the most desirable courtesans in London — not least because of her good looks. The laws were more lenient in the 18th century. However it was very hard to bring a prosecution against a disorderly house. The big fish were very hard to catch. Hayes lived in a time when women were rarely given control over their finances. After one of her keepers dropped dead of disease, leaving Hayes with a large debt bill, she found herself in prison.