Day 13 of 30. The girl who ate bank notes for breakfast.

-Kitty_Fisher_

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,

Kitty Fisher found it,

There was not a penny in it,

But a ribbon round it.

This delightful little rhyme is one I recall from childhood. As a child I’d no idea of the meaning of the words which is perhaps a jolly good job.

My post today is about the woman who this small rhyme remembers. She was one of the naughty girls in the 18th century. This young lady was a courtesan and beauty. She had a sharp wit and her vivacity made people adore her.

Her introduction into society gave her a taste for high living despite her poor background and quickly she found ways to achieve her desires.

Miss Fisher, Kitty to her friends and lovers, courted popularity and notoriety in a very businesslike way. Kitty was seen at all the most fashionable events and places of fun. Her lovers paid handsomely for the pleasure of her ‘company’.  Her desire for diamonds as gifts, her posing for the most influential of portrait painters and her running battles with another celebrity beauty, Maria Gunning, who you already know of, kept her constantly in the public eye.

The dispute between Kitty and Maria had to do with the Duke of Coventry, Maria’s husband, and also Kitty’s lover. Maria and Kitty hated each other. The rhyme may be to do with this rivalry between the two women. They certainly loathed each other enough to spread unpleasant gossip.

Kitty wasn’t just a name in London, she was a publicity brand. Tales of her behaviour both scandalised and titillated those in Town. One tale said she had eaten a £1000 note between two pieces of bread and butter and appeared in all the papers in London. Despite these kinds of antics Kitty remained hugely popular. Young women dressed like her, had their hair done like hers, emulated her actions and went to be seen in the same places she was, if they could. Kitty Fisher was a celebrity.

Even when things went awry somehow Kitty pulled an occasion out of the moment. The day she fell from her horse while riding in St James’ Park, her skirts billowed up and granted all comers a free show of her assets, is a classic example of the way she turned events to her advantage. At first embarressed and tearful Kitty quickly realised reporters were about and saw the funny side of the incident. Laughing heartily at her free advertisement of her wares, she called for a sedan chair to take her home. The reports of this incident flooded the papers again, rhymes and ditties about poor little Kitty’s mishap kept her in the public eye.

For a woman born into the lower classes Kitty’s rise to fame and fortune in this era is striking. She lived the high life for some time, until eventually; perhaps with the understanding the flush of youth was waning, she married and retired to the country. Sadly, she died after only four months of marriage. The cause of her death is believed to be one of the most savage killers of the age; smallpox.

Right until the end Kitty remained determined to go out with a splash. She was buried, at her request, in her best ball gown.

You have just got to admire this woman despite her questionable morality. She took her chances and she won, apart from her last battle with a terrible disease.

Tomorow is a give away day. To win a copy of my story Timeless leave me a comment after tomorrow’s post and I’ll pick a winner.

 

Here is the additional information Sunny requested. This is 18+ material.

The rhyme is based on truth. A barmaid called Lucy Locket broke with a gentleman after he spent all his money on her. This man soothed his sorrow with Kitty, though how he could afford her is a mystery. Lucy was rather peeved at the situation and it became a subject of a lot of gossip around the town.

In the 18th century the word ‘locket’ was a euphemism for the word vagina. A ‘pocket’ could refer to the gentleman, as he was the means of cash. It was also known for prostitutes to tie a small cloth money pocket around their thigh with ribbons as that was safer than having them beneath their skirts as other women did.                                          

Image from Wikipedia under free commons licence.

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11 thoughts on “Day 13 of 30. The girl who ate bank notes for breakfast.

    • Hi Eva, nice to see you here. It is reputed and was certainly reported in the press at the time that a ‘certain’ gentleman
      gave her a £1000 note, in response to his generosity, the reports said Miss Kitty slipped it between two thin slices of bread and butter and ate it.
      She like diamonds best. I think this incident happened not long after she’d been painted by Joshua Reynolds as Cleopatra disolving the pearl, she was making
      a point to the boyfriend perhaps.

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