Whores of Yore – Real Voice Project


Whores of Yore is an online project all about making research on the history of sex and sexuality available to the public. It’s about educating, while also entertaining. Because where’s the fun in learning if you don’t have a giggle while you’re at it?

This blog post is here to promote the launch of a book containing the voices and history of sex workers in Leeds, so read all about it.


What this website and community of sex workers and allies is about is being curious, but not judgemental. There are many contributors and endless streams of information that you can go through and learn from. It’s all wrapped up in an amusing way that has sent me on the same track as one of those Wikipedia articles black holes at 3 am many nights. Everyone does that, right? Right. Or Robyn will say that they do to help her feel better about her bad sleeping habits.

But, not only is Whores of Yore an incredibly interesting and hilarious website full of blogs and essays by an array of people, it also has a hilarious twitter account. Kate Lister runs it, and tweets all sorts of things from facts about the history of sex, to ‘historical hotties’, and photos for the followers to caption.



Basis Yorkshire  is a longstanding charity in Leeds work with female and transgender sex workers across Leeds and Yorkshire. Earlier past month, they were one of 10 charities around the UK to be awarded the prestigious GSK award.

Basis, with funding from Rosa,  have put together a book that collates the voices of their services users. The voice of sex workers is often ignored in the media and usurped by people who speak for them. The thing is that most of the time people that speaks about this are not provided with the actual experience. It’s why this book is a game changer.

Basis (@BasisSexWork) were recently offered the opportunity to write a regular blog on Kate’s website. Now it is already functioning and you can visit Basis blog on Whores of Yore website. There are links in the top image on this page, too.

Basis relationship with Kate Lister does not only include interaction on Kate’s blog since their relationship has grown in the past year because of the same topic of interest,  a knowledge, and appreciation of each others’ work.2


Right now they are working even more closely. Through support and collaboration from Kate Lister and colleagues from the University to play the part in ‘Real Voices’  project. There’s going to be a launch for the booklet in Basis offices on the 20th April from 11:30-13:30.

In this book, people will find real stories from point of view of sex workers.  This project aims to reflect the complexity of sex work, and give space for readers to listen and learn. They don’t push you to think in a certain way, they just leave the room for your own conclusions.

Kate provided the book with historical background since she has advance knowledge on the topic. In the book itself, Kate put effort into including details that for uninformed public might be shocking. She shows the bigger picture and makes us rethink our previous thought about the topic.

As a sneak peek we can show you an image that is used in the book:


William Logan’s summary of sex work in Leeds (1840)


When people think about sex work, and even I am included in this, it is more of a foggy blur full of second hand knowledge and half formed facts. This book is about raising awareness. There are so many issues that many people may have no idea about. I’m certainly keen to know more.

For so long, people have been speaking for sex workers, instead of them speaking for themselves. This book gives them that opportunity.

This project is important because it gives the voice of the sex workers and an alternative to media sensationalism. Those women are sometimes harassed by the media and their words edited, that in the final cut we can’t see full, real story but the picture that media wants us to see.

This is what is so great about the Whores of Yore project. It gives voices to whomever wants them. It is a platform for people to add knowledge to, and take knowledge from. No one could put it better than the site themselves when they said ‘we are in a process of continual growth and expansion‘ on their about page.

If you’ve come here and haven’t heard of it, then check it out. If you’ve come here and already know all about Whores of Yore, then get excited for this publication! I sure am!


We did this post in collaboration with therobynmason. Go check her blog to read more about women of history!

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