Brothel owner Margaret Wells takes care of her girls and aspires to move to more genteel quarters, but is challenged by her former employer, Lydia Quigley, who runs a more high-class establishment. Subplots introduced in first episode involve Wells's older daughter Charlotte, mistress to a nobleman; a virtuous reformer who Quigley lures into her world; one of Wells's girls who absconds to Quigley; Wells's younger daughter whose innocence is up for highest bidder; and a cheeky Irishman considering becoming a male prostitute, who flirts with Charlotte.
Did You Know?
There really was a publication of names & descriptions of prostitutes, as Lucy is reading from in the first scene. Called "Harris' List of Covent Garden Ladies" it was updated annually between 1757 and 1795; it sold around 250,000 copies, which was a massive amount for that time period. The content of the book is believed to have been written by an Irish poet named Samuel Derrick, to whom Harris, a notorious London pimp, lent his name in return for a fee. See more