Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, popularly known as Fanny Hill, is a novel by John Cleland.
Written in 1748 while Cleland was in debtor's prison in London, it is considered the first modern "erotic novel" in English, and has become a byword for the battle of censorship of erotica.
About the Author
John Cleland was the oldest son of William Cleland (1673/4 – 1741) and Lucy Cleland. He was born in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey but grew up in London, where his father was first an officer in the British Army and then a civil servant. William Cleland was a friend to Alexander Pope, and Lucy Cleland was a friend or acquaintance of both Pope, Viscount Bolingbroke, Chesterfield, and Horace Walpole. The family possessed good finances and moved among the finest literary and artistic circles of London.
John Cleland entered Westminster School in 1721, but he left or was expelled in 1723. His departure was not for financial reasons, but whatever misbehavior or allegation had led to his departure is unknown. Historian J. H. Plumb speculates that Cleland's puckish and quarrelsome nature was to blame, but, whatever caused Cleland to leave, he entered the British East India Company after leaving school. He began as a soldier and worked his way up into the civil service of the company and lived in Bombay from 1728 to 1740. He returned to London when recalled by his father, who was dying. Upon William's death, the estate went to Lucy for administration. She, in turn, did not choose to support John (and Cleland's two brothers had finished at Westminster and gone on to support themselves).