First published in 1749 in London, John Cleland's novel remained banned until 1963 in the US and until 1970 in the UK. Ever since the ban was lifted, it has been the object of academic study and one of the most frequently read novels of the eighteenth-century. The erotic adventures of Fanny Hill, a kept mistress and prostitute, are a pretext for a detailed account of social relations and sexual practises in 18th-century London.
At the same time a bawdy tale of endless amorous encounters and a vivid chronicle of mores in the tradition of picaresque realism, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is also a story of passionate and consuming love.
This is a scholarly edition addressing different expectations of the readership, by including both the original text and an updated version. In the former, today’s readers can follow the unadulterated voice of the narrator, Fanny Hill, with all the lexical and grammatical blunders of a “country girl.” In the latter, the spelling and the punctuation have been corrected, but strictly according to eighteenth-century standards, so that nothing of the tone and flavour of the original text is lost. This is the most extensively annotated edition of Cleland’s novel, with over 300 explanatory notes.