This project was birthed from an accident, when, searching for 17th century engravings of Diana and Minerva, I found the “The Harlot’s Progress” nestled at the bottom of a box in the Special Collections and Archives. A series of six etchings, “The Harlot’s Progress” is a single story – the tale of a young girl, Moll Hackabout, gone to London and the hardships that follow her there. The artist, William Hogarth, was an 18th century English painter, a satirist, influenced by French style engravings. Hogarth drew extensively from reality – some of the characters his series are candidly based on real people, and the narrative pulled from infamous tales of harlots, bawds, and rakes.
Intrigued by the name, the story, and the style, I perused the James B. Duke Library, surprised to find a wealth of academic writing about “The Harlot’s Progress.” In an attempted change of pace, however, I endeavored not to write an analysis of Hogarth as an artist, but to write the story of Moll Hackabout in my own style, drawing directly from the resources at hand. What follows is the result of my research. Much of the story is a twice-told tale – grounded in the original etchings and research – but much of it is my own vision, my own details, my own dialogue.
I have included some follow-up reading, should the reader like to know more about William Hogarth or Moll Hackabout.
Corso, Olivia, "The Harlot's Progress: a series of misfortunes, based on the work of William Hogarth and his character, Moll Hackabout" (2018). Special Collections and Archives Research and Creative Fellowships. 1.