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Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  5,781 ratings  ·  431 reviews
Peter Sabor presents both the first critical edition and the first accurate, wholly unexpurgated text of the most famous erotic novel in English, better known as Fanny Hill.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholars
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Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 15th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1748)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alex
Wife's away on an overnight business trip in Florida, so I felt it was appropriate to engage in that time-honored activity for husbands left to their own devices: porn.

And as porn goes, this is okay. It's not exactly hot, but it's not unacceptably un-hot, either, which is more than one can say for most of the internet. It can be fairly entertaining, at least; I highlighted the euphemism "red-headed champion," which is legitimately funny. It's hotter than Moll Flanders, to which it's clearly some
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Emily May
Aug 21, 2012 Emily May rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Shelves: classics, 2012, erotica
I'm talking about an erotic novel here, so maybe don't read my review if you tend to get offended by open and frank discussion about sexual acts. Just warning you in advance :)

Okay, firstly, this is porn. Just porn. Not a great literary achievement, not something that will sit snug in your mind with the Austen and Bronte classics... PORN. It got quite a reputation for being the first pornography to appear in novel form, and it also got a reputation because it was banned for multiple centuries an
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Aubrey
If I could go back in time and track Cleland down for a nice chat, I'd smack him in the face with a clipboard and watch him like a hawk till he'd read through the list clipped there in its entirety. Better yet, I'd take a woman and a man back with me, both of them less concerned with feminism issues to an unholy extent than I, and let the conversings about the genders commence. Maybe then, perhaps, I'd figure this author out.

The list? An abridged version of the following.

If you've seen my review
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Jessica
Oct 14, 2007 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: emily and other aficionadas of filthy, filthy, lovely filthy filth
They should make me Education Secretary. I'd make Fanny Hill required reading in freshman English classes across the country, thus instantly solving our country's illiteracy problem and instilling an abiding love of literature in our nation's young citizens.

I miss my copy of this book! I'd never heard of it before when I found it in a box on the sidewalk in Park Slope a few years ago, and had no idea what a lovely filthy treasure I had just unearthed.... I hope Lindsey enjoyed my edition of this
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Christina
A rather repetitive and primitive story of a young naive girl who arrives in London without any money or family to take care of her and who have to endure a lot of hardship before finally finding her true love. The hardship, however, is mostly in the form of a lot of sex which she finds a lot of pleasure in - this is truly a book where the means are more important than the end and the means are described in detail, unfortunately these details are more or less the same, repeated over and over, on ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
An outstanding allegorical work. Using tales of sex, John Cleland managed to portray the common fate of women: from their blissful innocence, to their hard lives, their exploitation by men, rebellion and ultimate redemption. First person narrator here is the young and beautiful Fanny Hill. This is the story of her poverty as an orphan, the innocence of her virginity, her corruption in a brothel, her languid life as a mistress, her defiant infidelities and wild sexual abandon, and finally her red ...more
Stela

There is a saying – Curiosity killed the cat. I learned about this 18th century porn while reading David Lodge’s Modes of Modern Writing, and of course it aroused my interest regarding both the language and the approach of a subject I had thought until then too daring for a prude period. It seems I was wrong and all that prudeness we know about is due to 19th century, mainly Victorian period. So, for one of most banished books in history (as Wikipedia informs us) Fanny Hill is not even very revo
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Emir Never
Written in the 1748, John Cleland's Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is considered as one of the most controversial books of all time. The epistolary novel details (this verb has never been more to the point than in this particular designation) the sexual exploits of a very young woman, Fanny Hill, after she was orphaned at the age of 15. Fanny moves from her village to London and gets caught up in the maze of debauchery involving multiple partners. Fanny relates her experiences, us ...more
Charity
Mar 23, 2010 Charity rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sexy Folk
Shelves: 1001books, brit-lit
Hooray for smut!

Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is widely considered the first pornographic novel and one of the most heavily banned books around. I thought it was an enjoyable read overall (though I found the first part/letter more entertaining than the second), but it really doesn't have much more storyline than modern-day porn. I also would have to agree with other reviewers who complained of it being rather penis-centric (the women just ooh and aah over all the amazing penises)
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Michael
In 1748 English novelist John Cleland went to debtors’ prison; while he was there he wrote a novel that went on to become the most prosecuted and banned book in history. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure is often referred to as Fanny Hill and is considered one of the first pornographic novels in the English language. Due to the release of this book, Cleland and his publisher Ralph Griffiths were both arrested and charged with “corrupting the King’s subjects”. The book went on to become so popular t ...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Opening lines:
I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders. Ungracious then as the task may be, I shall recall to view those scandalous stages of my life, out of which I emerged, at length, to the enjoyment of every blessing in the power of love, health and fortune to bestow; whilst yet in the flower of youth, and not too late to employ the leisure afforded me by great ease and affluence, to cultiva
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Jennifer
Mar 23, 2009 Jennifer rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classic erotica buffs
Shelves: classics, porn
I had no idea when I read this that people could be so naughty "back then". Heh. I am thinking I wouldn't even blink at the book now and would probably grumble at the lack of plot - but when I was a teen and I read this - it was shocking and kind of funny.
Liz
I thought Fanny Hill was going to be in the same vein as The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, including a smattering of cheeky 18thC sex scenes that hardly raise an eyebrow in the 21stC. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'd heard Fanny Hill's reputation (who hasn't? the slattern!), but then I've also read Lady Chatterley's Lover which isn't half as saucy as its reputation....

I wasn't quite prepared for the fact that Fanny Hill consists almost entirely of sex scenes linked together by the slimm
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Sheri
So I'm not really sure where to go here. I have a ton of thoughts but not really sure how best to organize.

On one hand, I am astounded by the blatent language and content (given that this was published in 1748). Some of it makes fifty shades look tame (although if you read my review of that, my complaint there was that it really wasn't as graphic as advertised).

I was also pleased (while simultaneously offended) at the progressive description of female sexuality. Especially after reading such cr
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Raisu
This was worth a read for the hundred and one ways to euphemistically describe intercourse and genitalia alone. The way Cleland adopts metaphors, similes, and analogues and then gleefully runs them to the ground is delightful indeed. It would be fun to properly analyse the source areas for his metaphors, and no doubt someone has done just that at some point. The most frequent, I think, were military/fighting terms - you know: dueling, conquering, battling, surrendering and all variations thereof ...more
Daniel Namie
"Having very curiously and attentively compared the size of that enormous machine, which did not appear, at least to my fearful imagination, less than my wrist, and at least three of my hand-full long, to that of the tender small part of me which was framed to receive it, I could not conceive its being possible to afford it entrance without dying, perhaps in the greatest pain, since she well knew that even a finger thrust in there hurt me beyond bearing."

--By John Cleland, Memoirs of Fanny Hil
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Paula
In addition to two pages (in my edition) that had blatant formatting errors, making the text difficult at best to read, the book itself was in several ways hypocritical. For example, the "intimate" scenes between two (or more) women in the novel were passed by as natural or innocent while the one (at the end) between two men was vilified and thought unnatural (despite being described in detail). Also, the ending was completely contrived, predictable, and unbelievable. Clearly written by a man pr ...more
Grace Harwood
Oh my Goodness, I find it so hard to believe that this book came out of the same century as the works of Mrs Radcliffe!! I could hardly believe what I was reading as something which came out just a few decades earlier than those Radcliffean novels of sensibility and refined heroines. Fanny Hill is anything but refined. From Radcliffe you will get elongated descriptions of scenery which will elevate your soul - from this you get elongated descriptions of something else... mainly genitalia. I read ...more
Thom Swennes
Positively breathless! I have read enough erotica, both antiquate and contemporary, but Fanny Hill by John Cleland rivals them all. I can well imagine that its publication (in two parts) in 1748 and 1749 caused quite a stir. I can’t help feeling a pity for the heroine for being a victim of society and her times. The life she led wasn’t unique, as women of all ages have often followed that road, but putting it into print and enlightening it from the shadows of civilized society must have shocked ...more
K.D. Absolutely
This is the most erotic classic book that I've read. This is one of the 501 MUST READ BOOKS so I bought and read it.

Many years ago, I read D. H. Lawrence's LADY CHATTERLY'S LOVER and I thought that I would not have any other more erotic classic literature. CHATTERLY'S was also banned but this book FANNY HILL OR MEMOIRS OF A WOMAN OF PLEASURE is banned longer than CHATTERLY'S. This was written or polished in 1748 and was first published in 1749 in London. In 1750, the church banned the book and i
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Taylor
Do you ever have those books where you have always wanted to read them and then you read them and you love them? This is one of them. I had heart of this book and I must say that I REALLY enjoyed it. It was beautifully written. I am a fan of erotica and I admire authors that can write it effectively. However, this was a great category. Descriptions were poetic and perfect. I felt as if I were in the bedroom. Every scene where the characters make love is treated so well... dripping with juicy det ...more
Sarah Jacquie
I have a thing where I MUST read controversial/banned books, and this one I HAD to read being that it was written in 1748! Controversial books written before America was even a country... I'm in.

I went in thinking this would be amusingly tame and innocent, something like Moll Flanders or Vanity Fair with an R rating a bit ahead of it's time. I was excited to read what I thought might be an honest "memoir" (honest being a word for representing the plight of women in such times in history) of a l
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Veerle
‘Fanny Hill, memoirs of a woman of pleasure’ is an eighteenth century erotic novel by John Cleland and is historically known as one of the first English prose pornographies. The author was arrested for writing such a scandalous book, and was only released on the promise he would never write such a thing again. The book was put on the forbidden literature list en wasn’t taken off until the 1960’s.

Most noticeable in this story is that sex is something women can appreciate. In that age and even mor
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Becky
It's many years since I last read this book and I must say I enjoyed it just as much this time around. Admittedly there are many flaws but no more so than with many other bawdy classics of the period, and certainly fewer than with some of the books that are currently taking the world by storm. The story of innocent but interested Fanny coming to London and swiftly being caught up in a world of vice is both an 18th century gentleman's wet dream and actually quite modern. At no point does Fanny co ...more
Cat
I guess if porn sticks around enough it becomes literature? As a fan of both (porn & literature) I have to say that I quite enjoyed fanny hill. Make no mistake- this is some hardcore s**t and it actually has an episodic format that reminds me of contemporary pornographic movies. Fanny Hill is a girl from the country who has a pretty easy going of her (brief) time as a prostitute. The reader is treated to her erotic awakening, a lesbian scene, an orgy scene, a little s&m and even some gay ...more
Gabrielle
Jan 28, 2008 Gabrielle is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I downloaded this audiobook off librivox.org (free and legal). While no doubt, this book was quite sensational when first published, it is now the literary equivalent of skinamax. What is most interesting about it to me, is that it is (a) written by a man, and (b) mostly read by men in audio. Be that as it may, the male view of female sexuality in this book is both horrifying and oddly liberating, as it attributes desire to the feminine, while still portraying her as purely dependant, and often ...more
Danny
Shades of Grey could take a leaf from Fanny Hill, rather then just smut it's a well written account of a young girls fate of the time, with alot of sex!
Kim
This was pretty awful. I haven't been that simultaneously bored and grossed out in a while. The writing is terrible, I don't care what century you're from. Entire paragraphs that consist of one long, overly wordy sentence with about fourteen commas. And it needs to be said, this guy loved the *shit* out of his synonyms. He also loved referring to the penis as a: weapon of destruction, instrument of battering, tool of attack. In short, penises are SCURRY, YA'LL! Watch out for those damn things. I ...more
Lisa James
be warned, this book, written in 1749, & having for at least 200 years been banned before it was ever allowed to be seen on these shores, is a classic example of 18th century erotica. it tells the story of Fanny, & young country girl, who loses her parents to an illness, probably smallpox, & ends up traveling with a young woman of better means to London, where is she is abandoned a second time, & falls in with a madam. She has a series of adventures, but never loses her heart to ...more
Erik Graff
May 14, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: boys in middle school
Recommended to Erik by: Don Rue
Shelves: literature
During the two years at Lincoln Junior High School in Park Ridge, Illinois I got involved with a fellow who belonged to a Sea Scouts troop across the border at a Chicago Park District fieldhouse and would spend weekends with him and his associates working on constructing a sailboat. One of the other fellows, name now forgotten, who lived in that Edison Park neighborhood invited about four of us over to his house after a day's work to see something interesting.

Escorting us up to their third floor
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First Edition details 2 28 Dec 03, 2012 10:41PM  
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John Cleland (baptised 24 September 1709 – 23 January 1789) was an English novelist most famous and infamous as the author of Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure.
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
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More about John Cleland...
Memoirs of a Coxcomb BANNED! An Anthology of Banned Books (14 books) Genuine Memoirs of the Celebrated Miss Maria Brown Exhibiting the Life of a Courtezan in the Most Fashionable Scenes of Dissipation Published by the Author of a Woman of Pleasure, Vol 2 of 2 New memories of a woman of pleasure Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (Classic Illustrated Edition)

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“...but we no more choose our passions than our features or complexion.” 2 likes
“(...) o conhecimento e a comunicação com os maus elementos do nosso próprio sexo é muitas vezes tão fatal para a inocência quanto todas as seduções do outro.” 1 likes
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