I came across this ever so interesting article on London, 18th century city of vice and immorality posted on Canadian Content. Hope you enjoy this snippet:
Eighteenth century London evokes images of fine Georgian buildings, many of which are still standing, and fine art.But in reality, it more of was a modern day Sodom, the biblical city synonymous with sexual depravity, and from which English gets the word "sodomy" (to North Americans, the eighteenth century is ancient history, but to the British it is relatively recent).It was a city of depravity and vileness (as for it high crime and murder rate, and the brutal methods of punishment, that's another story).It is thought that there were almost 63,000 prostitutes in London in the 1700s and that a staggering one in five of London's women were "harlots."In fact, London's prostitutes generated an estimated gross turnover of around £20 million (£1.5 billion in today's money).This was big business. Famous prostitutes became the celebrities of their time in Britain, including Lady Hamilton, the mistress of Lord Nelson. The fictional Moll Flanders is reputedly based on the real life Moll King. One of her customers was the author of Moll Flanders, Daniel defoe.The 18th Century British artist William Hogarth, who painted scenes of London that were as accurate as he could get them (18th Century London is often referred to as Hogarthian London), immortalised London's prostitution industry in A Rake's Progress (1732-33).Grotesquely (though, remember, only to the eyes of someone in the 21st Century) child prostitutes also plied their trade in London, some as young as eight. The British even believed that sexual intercourse with a child cured veneral diseases.And, of course, veneral diseases were rife, such as syphilis and gonorrhea.