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
[https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=915, accessed 20 September 2018.]