The Memoirs of Cora Pearl
Cora Pearl was the last and most notable of the great courtesans of Paris, who during the years of the Second Empire rose to become the mistress of Prince Napoleon – and also of many of the most notable aristocrats of Paris. Her memoirs provides an astonishingly detailed account of the sexual behaviour of the time, and is the most revealing and frank sexual document of the 19th century. More
Cora Pearl, born in Plymouth, England, rose to become the best-known and most highly paid courtesan in Paris during the richest years of the Second Empire. Introduced to sex at a boarding school in Boulogne, she discovered that not only did she enjoy it, but she could use it as a means of becoming rich and famous – and indeed she slept her way into the bedroom of the top rank of Parisian aristocracy, from dukes and marquises to Prince Napoleon himself. Not only does she reveal the names of her lovers, but what they asked her to do, and how she did it; so this is an almost unique document in the history of sex, providing a detailed insight into the sexual mores of her time. Whether or not one can approve of her morals – or lack of them – she reveals herself as a feisty and entirely independent woman, who in the very few gaps between satisfying her wealthy lovers, enjoyed herself with whatever man she fancied – from young country boys to officers in the French army. The reliability of the memoirs has been questioned, and it is now published as fiction; but many readers will decide that the words may be Cora Pearl’s own, for the book is full of verifiable details which could only have been known to her or someone extremely close to her.