WEIGHT: 62 kg
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A small pocketbook, it was printed and published in Covent Garden , and sold for two shillings and sixpence. Through their erotic prose, the list's entries review some of these women in lurid detail. While most compliment their subjects, some are critical of bad habits, and a few women are even treated as pariahs, perhaps having fallen out of favour with the list's authors, who are never revealed.
Samuel Derrick is the man normally credited for the design of Harris's List , possibly having been inspired by the activities of a Covent Garden pimp, Jack Harris. A Grub Street hack , Derrick may have written the lists from until his death in ; thereafter, the annual's authors are unknown.
Throughout its print run it was published pseudonymously by H. Ranger, although from the late s it was printed by three men: John and James Roach, and John Aitkin. As the public's opinion began to turn against London's sex trade, and with reformers petitioning the authorities to take action, those involved in the release of Harris's List were in fined and imprisoned. That year's edition was the last to be published; by then its content was cruder, lacking the originality of earlier editions.
Modern writers tend to view Harris's List as erotica; in the words of one author, it was designed for "solitary sexual enjoyment". Published by "H. Ranger", the annual was advertised on the front pages of newspapers, and sold in Covent Garden and at booksellers' stalls. Each edition comprises an attractive pocketbook, "beautifully packaged Priced in at two shillings and sixpence , Harris's List was affordable for the middle classes but expensive for a working class man.
It was not the first directory of prostitutes to be circulated in London. The Wandering Whore ran for five issues between and , in the early and newly liberal years of the Restoration. Her sister Elizabeth was less expensive, being "indifferent to Money but a Supper and Two Guineas will tempt her".