List of prostitutes and courtesans
- Aspasia, Greek hetaera, companion of Pericles
- 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.
- Phryne, Greek hetaera
- Rahab, biblical prostitute who assisted the Hebrews in capturing Jericho (Joshua 2:1-7)
- Thaïs, Greek hetaera who lived during the time of Alexander the Great
- Theodora, Empress of Byzantium
- Su Xiaoxiao, Chinese courtesan of the 5th century
Early Modern eraEdit
- Imperia Cognati, the “first courtesan”
- Isabella de Luna, Italian (originally Spanish) courtesan of Renaissance-era Rome.
- Chica da Silva, famous eighteenth-century slave courtesan in Brazil, subject of the movie Xica
- Madame du Barry, mistress to Louis XV of France
- Veronica Franco, Venetian courtesan and poet
- Nell Gwyn, courtesan to Charles II of England
- Laura Bell, the "Queen of London whoredom"
- Theresa Berkeley, 19th-century dominatrix
- Jeanne Brécourt, born 1837, one of France's most notorious courtesans
- 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
- Air Force Amy, a legal prostitute in Nevada, pornographic actress, and adult model, who starred in the HBO television documentary series Cathouse: The Series. MSNBC has called her "a living legend in the world of sex."
- Josie Arlington, madam in Storyville, New Orleans
- Suzy Favor-Hamilton, 3 time Olympian for Track and Field, and the subject of intense publicity when her activities as an escort became public.
- Heidi Fleiss, a.k.a. the "Hollywood Madam", ran an upscale prostitution ring based in Los Angeles during the 1990s
- Mata Hari (born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle), Dutch spy
- Xaviera Hollander, author of the memoir The Happy Hooker: My Own Story.
- Carol Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlot Harlot, coined the term "sex worker"
- 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.
- Barbara Payton, American actress turned prostitute
- Charlotte Rose, an English sex worker, dominatrix, sexual trainer and political candidate.
- Annie Sprinkle, American sex worker, porn star, and sex educator and writer
- Valérie Tasso, French author
- Sheila Vogel-Coupe, at 85+ the oldest prostitute in the United Kingdom and, possibly, the world.
- 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
- 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, Hannah's Healing)
- 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 by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay
- 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", a short story 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 Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Threepenny Opera
- Juliette, in the Marquis de Sade's Juliette
- Kamala, in Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
- Lady Sally, in Callahan's Lady by Spider Robinson
- 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 by Richard Mason
- 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
- Belle the Sleeping Car, train in Starlight Express by Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Christine/Chelsea, central character in The Girlfriend Experience
- Donna, in Tricks by DeAara Lewis
- Inara Serra, Firefly by Joss Whedon
- Iris, central character in the 1976 film Taxi Driver
- Irma la Douce, central character in the 1956 musical and the 1963 film of the same name
- Mrs. Miller, in McCabe & Mrs. Miller by Robert Altman
- Vivian Ward, central character in Pretty Woman
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)
- 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. 
- Commire, Anne, ed. (2002). Women in World History: A biographical encyclopedia.
- Suzy Favor Hamilton
- 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".
- McNeill, Maggie (23 December 2010). "Whore Goddesses". The Honest Courtesan. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
- Ditmore, Melissa Hope (ed), Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, Volume 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006, pp.34-5.
- Charles Squire Celtic Myth and Legend