Margaret Leeson (1727-97)


Life
[Mrs Leeson]; 18th century Dublin brothel keeper; first established in Drogheda St., a premises wrecked by Pinkindindies; compensated by £500 for loss of marriage to son of Earl of Avedon; re-established at Pitt. St., attended Theatre Royal with her girls; portrait painted as Diana; refused services to Westmoreland for ill-treating his second wife; retired with worthless IOU’s from the nobility;
 

attempted suicide in debtor’s prison, from which she published The Memoirs of Mrs Leeson, Written by Herself (1795-97), of which two volumes appeared to the embarrassment of many; the third and first to name names was in manuscript when she was attacked by footpads and raped; she died of venereal disease [STD], purportedly in consequence; her Pitt St. establishment was on the site of the current Westbury Hotel, Dublin. [No ODNB entry.]

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Works
  • Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson / Written by herself; and interspersed with several interesting anecdotes, of some of the most striking characters of Great-Britain and Ireland ..., 3 vols. (Dublin: printed for the authoress, and sold by the principal booksellers 1795) [of which Vol. 3 is given as A new edition, with considerable additions];
  • Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson written by herself; in which are given anecdotes, sketches of the lives and bon mots of some of the most celebrated characters in Great Britain and Ireland ... which have usually frequente´d her Citherean temple for these thirty years past ... [new edn.], 3 vols. ( Dublin, 1797) [available as London British Lib. Microfilm 2005);
  • The Life of Mrs. Margaret Leeson alias Peg Plunket: Written by herself: in which are given anecdotes and sketches of the lives and bon mots of some of the most celebrated characters in Great-Britain and Ireland, particularly of all the filles des joys [sic] and men of pleasure and gallantry, who usually frequented her Citherean temple for these thirty years past. Three volumes complete in one [New edn. with considerable additions] (Dublin: Printed and sold by the principal booksellers 1798), [2], ii, 24, 335, [1]p.; 12° [copy in NLI; Thomson-Gale, 2005; electronic copy Gale 2009; WWW].
Reprint
  • Mary Lyons, ed., The Memoirs of Mrs Leeson, Madam [in 3 vols.] (Dublin: Lilliput UP 1995), xxiv,290pp.

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Criticism
Mary Lyons, Intro. to The Memoirs of Mrs Leeson, Madam [in 3 vols.] (Dublin: Lilliput UP 1995), xxiv.

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Notes
Signor Carnavelli: when a visiting Italian, Signor Carnavalli made the mistake of trying to prevent such "ladies" as Peg Leeson from attending the theatre on his nights, she gathered managed to get him and his bouncers thrown in jail, thus preventing that night's performance from taking place. Richard Daly was also one of her clients. (See Mary Lyons, ed., There is a fascinating anecdote in "The Memoirs of Mrs. Leeson, Lilliput 1995, pp.87-91; information supplied by Patricia Watkins.)

William Carleton read Mrs. Leeson, the infamous Peg Plunket, while staying in Francis St., where he wondered at the morality of his landlady and how such an immoral library could exist. (See Benedict Kiely, Poor Scholar, 1947; 1972 edn., p.54.)

Mary Lyons, who has broadcast the story of Mrs Leeson with others of that period on Radio EÉireann, is a fnd.-mbr. of the Rare Books Group; worked in the British Library as antiquarian cataloguer and bibliographer.

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