When we think of prostitutes, what traits do we assign those women?

Lust, but not love?

Passion – poorly directed, perhaps?

In our current society, prostitutes tend to be cast to the outskirts of humanity. They tend to be regarded as people who have limited resources, abilities and opportunities. They are thought to rely upon the only thing that they have of any value – their bodies.

They are outcasts.

They are criminals.

Historically, across the world, the place of the prostitute wasn’t always so far outside the mainstream. They weren’t entirely embraced, but they weren’t such dirty secrets.

Veronica Franco made her way as a courtesan in Venice, Italy in the late 16th Century. Her mother was a courtesan as well. She taught Veronica the trade.

These women were what, today, we might call “high-class prostitutes.” They were educated and sought after by the richest men. They were called upon by nobility.

While supporting herself as a courtesan, Veronica Franco became a renowned poet. She was published and read. Her life as a prostitute was captured in her writings, and may well serve as Veronica Franco’s autobiography.

She did not work alone, though. She was respected by other writers. Indeed, when she compiled Terze Rime, her own anthology, both Veronica Franco and Marco Venier’s poems appeared in the collection, along with other unidentified poets.

Veronica Franco was a known courtesan respected for her talents in the arts.

Today, the union of those two things is hard to imagine.