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Dr Bob France with some ladies from the audience. The picture in the middle is a copy of Kitty's finest portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, which hangs in Petworth House

On Monday 15th February 2016 Dr Bob France, always a popular speaker, began his talk by showing a framed copy portrait of the notorious Kitty Fisher by Joshua Reynolds. She is portrayed wearing her trademark black mantilla and several ropes of pearls and Bob gave an explanation of those items.
Kitty was born around 1840 as Catherine Maria Fischer in London where her father worked as a silver chaser. She worked in a milliner’s shop and along with other girls was a target for the young rakes. She had numerous liaisons with well known older gentlemen in the armed forces. Essentially Kitty was a superb self publicist; she understood self promotion and became known throughout Georgian society in London as a status symbol. She promoted this by riding daily in the London parks in beautiful costumes. An incident occurred when her horse reared up and she was thrown to the ground. This event was given full publicity in the capital’s print shop windows and became a society talking point. Kitty was married to John Norris in 1766 but became ill and died four months later, probably of consumption thus ending eight years of “Fishermania”
Descriptions about the scandalous life of this Georgian courtesan certainly raised a few eyebrows in the audience. Bob rounded off his talk with an invitation to view the original painting of Kitty Fisher at Petworth House Sussex.