List of prostitutes and courtesans
- Aspasia, Greek hetaera, companion of Pericles
- Phryne, Greek hetaera
- Rahab, biblical prostitute who assisted the Hebrews in capturing Jericho (Joshua 2:1-7)
- Su Xiaoxiao, Chinese courtesan of the 5th century
- Thaïs, Greek hetaera who lived during the time of Alexander the Great
- Theodora, Empress of Byzantium
- Gomer, a prostitute whom God commanded Hosea to marry in the biblical Book of Hosea.
- Mary Magdalene was supposed to have been a prostitute by those who identified her with the sinful woman in Luke 7:36–50, an identification now generally abandoned.
Early Modern eraEdit
- Madame du Barry, mistress to Louis XV of France
- Imperia Cognati, the "first courtesan"
- Veronica Franco, Venetian courtesan and poet
- Nell Gwyn, courtesan to Charles II of England
- Chica da Silva, famous eighteenth-century slave courtesan in Brazil, subject of the movie Xica.
- Laura Bell, the "Queen of London whoredom"
- Theresa Berkeley, 19th-century dominatrix
- Annie Chapman, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Mary Jane Kelly, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Lizzie Lape, mid-Ohio madam, operator of multiple bordellos, 1880s-1900s
- Mary Ann Nichols, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Shady Sadie (Josephine Marcus) Courtesan who had an affair with Wyatt Earp
- Elizabeth Stride, one of the "canonical five" victims of Jack the Ripper
- Martha Tabram, a possible victim of Jack the Ripper
- Libby Thompson, "Squirrel Tooth Alice," madam of a brothel in Sweetwater, Texas
- Polly Adler, New York madam, 1920s - 1940s
- Josie Arlington, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
- Xaviera Hollander, author of the memoir The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.
- Carol Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlot Harlot, coined the term "sex worker"
- Mata Hari (born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), Dutch spy
- Barbara Payton, American actress turned prostitute
- Annie Sprinkle, American sex worker, porn star, and sex educator and writer
- Valérie Tasso, French author
- Clara Ward, Princesse de Caraman-Chimay, daughter of a Michigan lumberman who spent most of her life in Europe
- Lulu White, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
- Brooke Magnanti, blogger and scientist who wrote as Belle de Jour and was the inspiration for Billie Piper's character in Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
- Suzy Favor-Hamilton, 3 time Olympian for Track and Field, and the subject of intense publicity when her activities as an escort became public.
- Air Force Amy,a legal prostitute in Nevada, pornographic actress, and adult model, who starred in of the HBO television documentary series Cathouse: The Series. MSNBC has called her "a living legend in the world of sex."
- Sheila Vogel-Coupe, at 85+ the oldest prostitute in the United Kingdom and, possibly, the world.
- Bella Cohen, Florry, & Zoe, in Ulysses by James Joyce
- Belle, Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O'Neill
- Belle Watling, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- Bridget Torjesen, aka Bridget Stanton, in Rikki de la Vega's "Free Spirit" series of erotic novels (Peri's Bliss, Bridget's Calling)
- Candy, in Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction by Luke Davies
- Candy, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
- Chandramukhi, in Devdas
- Eccentrica Gallumbits, "The Triple-Breasted Whore of Eroticon Six" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
- Elisabeth Rouset, in Boule de Suif by Guy de Maupassant
- Fanny Hill, in Fanny Hill, by John Cleland
- Fantine, in Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
- Marguerite Gautier, from Alexandre Dumas, fils' work La Dame aux camélias, inspired by real life Marie Duplessis, 19th century courtesan
- Jenny Smith, in Kurt Weill's Mahagonny and Threepenny Opera
- Juliette, in the Marquis de Sade's Juliette
- Kamala, in Siddhartha
- Lady Sally, a.k.a. Callahan's Lady
- Lozana, Portrait of Lozana by Francisco Delicado
- Lulu, in Frank Wedekind's plays and Alban Berg's opera of the same name
- Mamie Stover, The Revolt of Mamie Stover by William Bradford Huie
- Mistress Overdone, manager of a bordello in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare.
- Moll Flanders, The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
- Molly Malone, Irish urban legend
- Mother Goose, in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress
- Nana, Nana, by Émile Zola
- Nancy, Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
- Odette, in Marcel Proust's Un amour de Swann
- Phedre no Delauny of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels
- Pie 'Oh' Pah, from Imajica by Clive Barker
- Romulus, central character in The Romanian: Story of an Obsession by Bruce Benderson
- Mrs. Rosie Palm, brothel owner and president of the Guild of "Seamstresses" in various Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett
- Satine, in Moulin Rouge! by Baz Luhrmann, a story based on the Paris nightclub of the same name.
- Séverine Serizy, in the 1928 novel Belle de Jour and the 1967 film based on it
- Sonya Marmeladova, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Suzie Wong, from The World of Suzie Wong
- Talanta, La Talanta by Pietro Aretino
- Thúy Kiều, The Tale of Kieu by Nguyễn Du
- Tra La La, Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby
- Tristessa, Tristessa by Jack Kerouac
- Vasantsenaa, a Nagarvadhu, or wealthy courtesan, in Śudraka's Sanskrit play, Mṛcchakatika.
- Violetta, main character from the opera La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, is also inspired by Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux camélias. "La Traviata" means "the reprobate".
- Yumi Komagata, in Rurouni Kenshin, by Nobuhiro Watsuki
- Zaza, in Zaza by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon
In film, television, and musical theaterEdit
- Belle de jour, Belle de jour by Luis Buñuel
- Irma la Douce, central character in film and musical of the same name
- Inara Serra, Firefly by Joss Whedon
- Mrs. Miller, in McCabe and Mrs. Miller, by Robert Altman
- Vivian Ward, central character in Pretty Woman
- Belle the Sleeping Car, train in "Starlight Express" by Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Donna, in Tricks, by DeAara Lewis
- Iris, central character in the 1976 film "Taxi Driver"
Maggie Thorpe, Dorothy Bennett and Blanche Simmons in Tenko are all to some degree prostitutes.
Symbolic or allegorical prostitutesEdit
Prostitutes in myth and legendEdit
- Agatha - English prostitute, mother of Mother Shipton
- Basileia (Ancient Greece) - in Pandemos, this goddess was mainly a goddess for prostitutes or courtesans
- Bebhinn (Celts of the British Isles) - the goddess of pleasure
- Belili (Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Philistines, & Canaanites) - her worship required sacred prostitution
- Naamah (Hebrews) - an angel of prostitution, one of the succubus mates of the demon Samael in Zoharistic Qabalah
- Shamhat (Sumer/Babylon)[clarification needed]
- Xochiquetzal (Aztecs) - the goddess of prostitutes, pregnant women, & dancing
- Alexandra Dé Broussehan (Irish Celts) - a woman turned spirit of prostitution, caused a war between the Callahan and Lawlor Clans. Often associated with Korrigan whose worship involved sacred prostitution
- Filteau, Jerry "Scholars seek to correct Christian tradition on Mary Magdalene," Catholic News Service May 1, 2006. 
- Welcome to the World of Scarlot Harlot, her own web site, accessed 28 August 2006; Carol Leigh, Unrepentant Whore: Collected Works Of Scarlot Harlot, Last Gasp, 2004.
- O'Dowd, John. "Hollywood Bad Girl Barbara Payton".
- Suzy Favor Hamilton
- Charles Squire Celtic Myth and Legend