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The Book of the Courtesans: A New Series
Back in 2016 when I first started my international research for The Parisian Sphinx, I came across an amazing document in the Paris police archives. It was from the secret files of the 19th century vice squad. Inside this enormous leather-bound volume were the criminal records of an incredible array of women who had found themselves on the wrong side of the law. These were the women who the state had dubbed Les Insoumis—“the undominated," or “the rebels” These were women who lived with the freedom of prostitutes, outside the boundaries of polite society, but refused to register as sex workers. They were actresses, artists, gay aristocrats, journalists, activists, and others who forged their own way of being female in the world. Beginning next week, I'm going to start at the beginning and share these women's stories. I'll be translating their police files as found in the book, but including additional research from photo and newspaper archives here in Paris where available. Some stories are funny, some are tragic, but all present a fascinating window into a lush, lost world. As I move into the editing stage of The Parisian Sphinx, I’ll be exploring the stories of these rebel women to see what form a larger project might take. I hope you enjoy them.
Update: links to the individual posts can be found below.