John Cleland

(1849 words)
  • Peter Byrne

The dearth of biographical information about John Cleland (1710-1789) is partly due to the scandal surrounding the novel for which he is usually remembered, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (more commonly, and inaccurately, known as “Fanny Hill”, after the main character); many of his contemporaries and their biographers mentioned him briefly and with embarrassment or distaste. Even the recent reassessment of the work has not corrected this situation fully; the only significant biographical study remains William Epstein's John Cleland: Images of a Life (1974), from which much of the following is derived.

John Cleland was born in 1710 in Kingston, Surrey, the oldest of three children (brother Henry b. 1711, …

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Byrne, Peter. "John Cleland". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 October 2001
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]

Articles on Cleland's works

  1. Fanny Hill, or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure