Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
Publication Date: January 7, 1986
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Forced by the death of her parents to seek her fortune in London, Fanny Hill is duped into prostitution by an old procuress. In Mrs Brown's bawdy-house the naïve young woman begins her sexual initiation - progressing from innocence to curiosity and desire - and soon embarks on her own path in pursuit of pleasure, until she at last finds true love. John Cleland's story of Fanny's rise to respectability was denounced after its publication by the then Bishop of London as 'an open insult upon Religion and good manners', while James Boswell called it 'a most licentious and inflaming book'. But beside its highly entertaining and boisterous depictions of a startling variety of sexual acts, Fanny Hill stands as one of the great works of eighteenth-century fiction for its unique combination of parody, erotica and philosophy of sensuality.
John Cleland was born in 1710, eldest son of William Cleland, an officer and friend of the Pope. For a while hoe worked for the East India Company, rising from soldiers to businessman to secretary of the Bombay Council, though he returned to London in 1741. He then became a literary hack and journalist and was imprisoned for debt on several occasions, and on one such occasion used the time to write Fanny Hill. He died in Westminster in January 1789. Peter Wagner is a lecturer at the Catholic University of Eichstatt in Bavaria. His books in English include a study of Puritanism in colonial New England, and a survey of erotica in the age of Enlightenment.
"A rare achievement . . . a ray of sunshine in the gloomy world of lust."