From the Inside Flap
Harris' Book of Covent Garden Ladies was a colorful directory of London prostitutes first devisedby Jack Harris, an infamous pimp and the head waiter of The Shakespear's Headtavern. Although the publication bore Harris' name, the true mastermind behindthe work was an Irish Poet named Samuel Derrick. Each edition allegoricallydepicts both physical attributes and sexual specialties of approximately onehundred Covent Garden prostitutes. A contemporary report of 1791 estimates thatthis naughty little book sold 8,000 copies annually. A copy is available atProject Gutenburg
Prisoners during theAmerican Revolution -
Because King George III declared the AmericanColonists traitors to the crown, captured American soldiers were denied ethicaltreatment as prisoners of war. British Generals, however, declined to try andhang them for fear of turning British public sympathy toward the Americans.The Continental Army's victory at the Battle of Saratoga, resultingin thousands of British POWs in the hands of Americans, further dissuadedBritish officials from hanging, due to fear of retaliation. This did not,however, prevent the British from outright mistreatment of American soldiers,most of whom were detained on prison hulks where conditions were so bad that mostdied of disease and starvation. In 1777, Washington wrote an appeal to LordAdmiral Richard Howe in which he implored Howe to launch an investigation intothe conditions on the hulks. Washington warned retaliation against Britishprisoners was an option if conditions did not improve. No compromise on thefair treatment of prisoners was ever reached.
Barbary Corsairs werethe scourge of the Mediterranean from as early as the 9th century and stillcontinue today. Operating out of the major North African ports of Algiers, Tunisand Tripoli, they preyed on merchant ships and engaged in Razzias (raidson coastal towns and villages) throughout the Mediterranean. Their mainobjective in the raids was to capture Christian slaves. Theybecame such a danger that long stretches of coast in Spain and Italy werealmost completely abandoned. From the 16th to 19th century, corsairs capturedan estimated 800,000 to 1.25 million people, holding them for ransom or sellingthem as slaves.
The Ottoman harem also known as the Seraglio harem, wasthe residence of the Valide Sultan (Queen Mother), the Sultan's favorites(hasekis), and the rest of his concubines. While concubines were often given asgifts to the Sultan by his governors or others desiring to curry favor, odalisqueswere more often bought from slave markets after being kidnapped. Many were keptpurely to serve the needs of more prominent women of the harem. Althoughodalisques were not generally presented to the Sultan, those of extraordinarybeauty and talent were often considered as potential concubines, and trainedaccordingly. They learned to dance, recite poetry, play musical instruments,and master the erotic arts.
The stories recounted to Simon bySalime are a mixture of fact and fantasy. The tragic taleof the Persian Poetess Rabi'a as well as her poetry is recounted according tolegend. The stories of Ashiqu and Asma as well as the Princess Sarita are purelyfrom my imagination.
The Poetry used is primarily from two sources, the beloved 13th centuryPersian poet Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi and a more obscure English poetand adventurer, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. Blunt travelled extensively in the MiddleEast during his lifetime and I felt his poetic voice reflected that. I alsoeasily envisioned his words springing from Simon. I have endeavored to creditall sources accordingly.