(From the book "London's Underworld", a 19th-century expose on London's seedier side; my current bedside reading)
"Park women, properly so called, are those degraded creatures, utterly lost to all sense of shame, who wander about the paths most frequented after nightfall in the Parks, and consent to any species of humiliation for the sake of acquiring a few shillings. You may meet them in Hyde Park, between the hours of five and ten (till the gates are closed) in winter. In the Green Park, in what is called The Mall, which is a nocturnal thoroughfare, you may see these low wretches walking about sometimes with men, more generally alone, often early in the morning. They are to be seen reclining on the benches placed under the trees, originally intended, no doubt, for a different purpose, occasionally with the head of a drunken man reposing in their lap. These women are well known to give themselves up to disgusting practices, that are alone gratifying to men of morbid and diseased imaginations. They are old, unsound, and by their appearance utterly incapacitated from practising their profession where the gas-lamps would expose the defects in their personal appearance, and the shabbiness of their ancient and dilapidated attire. ... The unfortunate women that form this despicable class have in some cases been well off, and have been reduced to their present condition by a variety of circumstances, among which are intemperance, and the vicissitudes natural to their vocation."
Seriously, the whole book is like that. It's hilarious. Here's part 1 of the table of contents (the portion dealing with prostitution):
Prostitution in London
Seclusives, or those that live in private houses and apartments
The prostitutes of the Haymarket
Those who live in low lodging houses
The Dependents of Prostitutes
Followers of Dress Lodgers
Keepers of accommodation houses
Procuresses, Pimps, and Panderrs
Ladies of Intrigue and Houses of Assignation
Traffic in Foreign Women
Next time: Thieves!
4 days ago