Book Details

Harper Collins Logo

History Of Mistresses


About the Book

She has been known as the "kept woman," the "fancy woman," and the "other woman." The French acknowledge her existence by remarking, "The chains of marriage are so heavy that it often takes three people to carry them." She is Jeanne Antoinette de Pompadour, and Simone de Beauvoir, not to mention Marilyn Monroe and Camilla Parker-Bowles. She is a mistress, and she has been – and is – very much apart of our human cultural history. But who is she, really? What is the true nature of the mistress-lover relationship? How do women experience mistressdom? And where does love figure in all of this?

Elizabeth Abbott, who made celibacy sexy in her acclaimed A History of Celibacy, has the fascinating storehouse of answers in a deliciously rich blend of history, personality and cultural study. In a lively and accessible style, History of Mistresses draws intimate portraits of mistresses throughout history, from Chinese concubines to Europe’s royal mistresses and the clandestine consorts of (un)celibate clerics. Mobster molls, trophy dolls and modern mistresses are deconstructed, with often surprising results. Beyond the personalities, some interesting themes emerge: the relationship between mistresses of colour and their married men; the coercion of Jewish women during the Holocaust; and a contemporary look at today’s "power" mistresses.

From lust to love, from money to power, Abbott’s A History of Mistresses ferrets out the motives and morals of these women, carrying the reader along on a journey that is hugely informative and always entertaining.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780006385899
  • ISBN 10: 0006385893
  • Imprint: Harper Perennial
  • On Sale: 03/08/2004
  • Pages: 528
  • List Price: 24.95 CAD
  • BISAC1: HISTORY / General

History Of Mistresses by Elizabeth Abbott

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the web site's home page.

Other Booksellers

The broadest selection of online bookstores. The links will take you to the Web site's home page.


International Customers

If you are located outside Canada, the best way to order online is to choose from the following bookstores listed by region and country.

HarperCollins Reader

We created the HC Reader App to be a simple way to read our e-books. Our App is available for download on iOS and Android devices.

We strongly encourage using the HarperCollins reader application since it supports the type of file we are using. You may experience some technical difficulties using a different reader application.


  1. You need a HarperCollins Account. If you purchase/have purchased an e-book from HarperCollins, this is your account login and password. If not, please click here to register.
  2. Download the HC Reader App on iOS or Android. Enter your HarperCollins account username and password. Please note that your username is an e-mail address.
  3. Download your e-book and enjoy!