JOHN CLELAND was a luckless little hack who in 1748, destitute and desperate, scribbled Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure for a flat fee of 20 guineas. He went on to become an inept philologist, ducked creditors much of his life, and died aged and unsung. If the poor fellow were only alive today, he could be a Big Writer, for critics on both sides of the Atlantic have acclaimed his ability to describe repetitive fornication with elegance and grace. He could wear hand-sewn Italian loafers, sell his still unwritten books...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!