Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554812967 / 1554812968
  • 300 pages; 5½" x 8½"
Exam Copy

Availability: Worldwide

Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

  • Publication Date: June 30, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781554812967 / 1554812968
  • 300 pages; 5½" x 8½"

John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure has been described as the first erotic novel in English and is perhaps the greatest example of the genre. From the outset it was mired in disrepute. Cleland penned the novel to liberate himself from debtors’ prison, and the book’s manifestly lewd content led to its legal suppression within a year of publication. Though versions of the novel, nearly always abridged in some form, continued to find a way into print, the Memoirs remained an underground text until the 1960s. Only as that decade ushered in a culture less socially deferential and more sexually permissive was the moment opportune for the obscenity ban to be successfully challenged. Cleland’s novel is a triumph of literary style, resting on his invention of an entirely new, vividly metaphoric, terminology for describing sexual pleasure.

This edition provides extensive materials on Cleland’s biography and career, contemporary censorship, and pornography and prostitution in the eighteenth century.

APPENDICES
Appendix A: Censorship and its Repeal

  1. Warrants for the detention of Cleland and others following publication of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure and Memoirs of Fanny Hill
  2. Statement of Ralph Griffiths taken before Lovel Stanhope, Law Clerk in the Secretary of State’s office, on 13 November 1749
  3. Letter of 13 November 1749 from Cleland to Lovel Stanhope, Law Clerk in the Secretary of State’s Office
  4. John Nichols, obituary of Cleland in the Gentleman’s Magazine (February 1789)
  5. Statement by Supreme Court Justice Arthur G. Klein ruling that the publication of the Memoirs be protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (August 1963)

Appendix B: Writing Sex

  1. From The School of Venus, or, The Ladies Delight, Reduced into Rules of Practice (1680)
  2. From Thomas Stretzer, A New Description of Merryland. Containing, a topographical, geographical, and natural history of that country (1741)
  3. From John Armstrong, The Oeconomy of Love: A Poetical Essay (1745)
  4. From the Trial of Francis Charteris for Rape (1730)
  5. Trial of John Deacon and Thomas Blair for Sodomitical Practices (1743)
  6. From Thomas Cannon’s Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d (1749)

Appendix C: Sexual Bodies

  1. From Nicholas Venette, The Pleasures of Conjugal-Love explain’d (1740?)
  2. From William Cowper, The Anatomy of Humane Bodies (1737)
  3. From La Mettrie, Man A Machine (1749)
  4. From Cleland, Institutes of Health (1761)

Appendix D: Prostitution

  1. From Cleland, The Case of the Unfortunate Bosavern Penlez (1749)
  2. From Memoirs of the Celebrated Miss Fanny Murray (1759)
  3. From Genuine Memoirs of the Celebrated Miss Maria Brown (1766)
  4. From Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies (1757-1795)

Appendix E: Cleland’s Writings on the Novel

  1. Cleland, Review of Tobias Smollett’s Peregrine Pickle, from The Monthly Review (March 1751)
  2. Cleland, Review of Henry Fielding’s Amelia, from The Monthly Review (December 1751)
  3. From Cleland, The Dictionary of Love (1753)
  4. From Cleland’s commentary on Historical and Physical Dissertation on the Case of Catherine Vizzani, by Giovanni Bianchi (1751)

Richard Terry is Professor of Eighteenth-Century English Literature at Northumbria University. Helen Williams is Senior Lecturer in English at Northumbria University.