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Ladies of the half-light of the 19th century, who received not only wealth, but also worldwide fame
Ladies of the half-light of the 19th century, who received not only wealth, but also worldwide fame

Popular rumor attributed these women to incredible wealth, success and even political influence during their lifetime. Their names have remained in history, books and films are still being written about them, however, evaluating the "career" of the ladies of the half-world from the point of view of modern morality, it becomes clear that each of them was unhappy in her own way, and their stories often began with terrifying facts.

Marie Duplessis

Rosa-Alfonsina Plessis was born in 1824 in a small Norman village in the family of a bankrupt farmer who made a living by selling small goods. The father was a bitter drunkard, he brought his wife to death, and her aunt was engaged in raising the girl for some time. However, as soon as Alfonsina lost her honor, entangled with a young footman, the strict lady immediately sent the girl back to her father. According to some sources, Maren Plessis decided to take advantage of their daughter's fall and began selling her to local lovers of forbidden pleasures.

Alfonsina did not endure such a life for long. Soon she left her parental home and reached Paris. There she changed her name, added the noble prefix "Du" to her surname and got a job in a milliner's workshop. The profession of a seamstress was at that time one of the most popular for young ladies who wanted to earn a living honestly, but this occupation brought little money. As a result, the pretty girl still took the path that made it possible to get more money.

Marie Duplessis. Watercolor by Camille Rockplan

At the age of 16, Marie found her first wealthy patron, the owner of a restaurant, who settled her in an apartment and began to show her out. Once in the society of noble and well-dressed people, she, oddly enough, found herself in her place, her beauty sparkled with unusual power. Marie changed lovers and gradually became one of the most famous ladies of the half-world. She died very young, at 23, from tuberculosis, leaving a memory of herself as an incredibly kind and understanding woman. Thanks to Alexander Dumas-son, this bright image found eternity under the name of the Lady with Camellias.

Carolina Otero, or Beautiful Otero

Among the admirers of this famous courtesan were kings: William II, Nicholas II, Leopold II, Alphonse XIII, Edward VII, many politicians and popular writers. However, such a brilliant fate began in a small Spanish town, where a completely degraded prostitute in 1868 gave birth to another child, like others - no one knows from whom. The girl was named Augustine, and it is clear that "family occupation" from the earliest years was for her the only way of existence. At the age of twelve, she had already fled from home, joined a group of Portuguese traveling comedians, danced in pubs, changed men constantly, and gradually became known as a dancer.

Carolina Otero is a popular model for postcards

To arouse more interest, Carolina posed as a gypsy, and in this role she conquered the whole world. One of the Beautiful Otero's passions was gambling. Having lived to her old age, she existed on an allowance from the Monte Carlo casino. This is how the owners of the gambling house honored the memory of the woman who at one time left more than one million in their halls. Today this woman is called a symbol of the Belle Epoque in European history.

Cora Pearl

The childhood of the future shocking courtesan was perhaps not so terrible.She was the daughter of a poor English composer and was brought up in a monastery school. True, the fruits of such a strict upbringing turned out to be somewhat strange. Returning home, the girl did not want to lead a modest and simple life. She was attracted by the glitter of the capital, so she, like thousands of other young dreamers, left for London to become an actress. True, unlike many other girls, Emma (that was her real name), was really able to become a star.

Cora Pearl - the famous courtesan

The beginning of her "career", however, was banal - a lonely girl from the provinces in the capital quickly became a prostitute, but eventually managed to find rich patrons and left for Paris. There she even approached her old dream, performed on stage, but quickly realized that living on the money of men is easier than working in the theater. There were also many crowned heads among her admirers, but gradually she lost everything. Towards the end of her life, Cora was again forced to sell her body. Her memoirs, published in 1886, are still being reprinted.

The 19th century is considered the "golden era" of great courtesans, but a hundred years later such women appeared. Lady Pamela Churchill-Harriman was called the last and most influential courtesan of the 20th century.

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