Story: Sex work

A lost sister

While prostitutes were sometimes seen as 'wicked women', by the late 19th century they were also considered to be 'soiled doves' whose downfall was often the outcome of male lust and the moral disapproval of other family members. This 1889 cartoon by William Blomfield charts the 'seven ages of a lost sister'. The victim of seduction and the mother of an illegitimate child, she migrates from work in a luxurious brothel to soliciting on the streets. Her dead body is discovered by a policeman. Blomfield's cartoon illustrates the concern about the 'social evil' of sex work in late-19th-century New Zealand.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: H-713-095
Cartoon by William Blomfield

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Jan Jordan, 'Sex work - 19th-century sex work', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 July 2024)

Story by Jan Jordan, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 31 May 2018