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Harriette Wilson

"My own Wellington, who has sighed over me by the hour, talked of my wonderful beauty, ran after me . . . only for a single smile from his beautiful Harriette. Did he not kneel? And was I not the object of his first, his most ardent wishes, on his arrival from Spain? Only it was such a pity that Argyle got to my house first. . . .my tender swain Wellington stood in the gutter at two in the morning, pouring forth his amorous wishes in the pouring rain, in strains replete with heartrending grief."

--Harriette Wilson


     If there is one lesson to be learned in the House of Rhetoric, it is "never cross a literate courtesan."  The Duke of Wellington learned this lesson too late.  The sharp pen of Harriette Wilson made a public laughing stock of him.
     Harriette Dubochet was born in London, the daughter of a Swiss clock maker.  She showed her talents early; both for sexual prowess and financial acumen. At the age of fifteen she allowed herself to be seduced by Lord Craven. Soon she was one of the most sought after courtesans in London.  Harriette was an amazing woman. Completely independent, she turned down many an ardent suitor. She loved to walk, and was often seen towing unfortunate swains all over town.  She settled down for a time with the Duke of Argyle, but when he went to Scotland she became the mistress of the Duke of Wellington (the hero of Waterloo).  Wellington drove her crazy. He was jealous of her male friends, and a poor conversationalist, to boot. But he was also extremely wealthy, so she stuck it out until she turned 35.  At that time she retired from the business, moved to Paris, married, and settled down to a literary career.
     Her first work  was her Memoirs, in which she named names and provided details of her liaisons.  when Wellington learned of it he threatened to sue.  Harriette's response was to add even more material on him.  His famous last message to her was "Publish, and be damned!"  After her memoirs, she wrote and published novels (very bad ones, say her critics).  She died in 1845.


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