John Cleland Bibliography

Fanny Hill; or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure 1748
Published in two volumes in 1748 and 1749 and immediately suppressed. Cleland was arrested probably on account of the fact that the book contained a description of a homosexual encounter, this at a time when homesexuality could lead to execution. The scene, which Cleland veiled by calling it “a project of preposterous pleasure” (preposterous, meaning back to front, was often used to mean unnatural) was dropped after the first edition.

Cleland was a consular and commercial agent in the Middle East and India and wrote Fanny Hill in extreme poverty whilst living in Bombay. Cleland sent copies back to England to circulate among friends and at one time stated that he no intention of publishing the manuscript until financial necessity compelled him to do so in 1748. Cleland also wrote Memoirs of a Coxcomb (1751), Surprises of Love (1765), and the plays Titus Vespasian (1755) and Timbo-Chiqui (1758).