"He was the universe to me, and all that was not him, was nothing to me"

John Cleland was born in 1709, and was educated at Westminster School in London. He went on to pursue a government career overseas, including the post of consul in Smyrna and later worked for the East India Company in Bombay. Subsequently, he devoted his time to travelling before returning to England.

He wrote a number of novels, but his most famous, indeed notorious work, is the erotic novel Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure otherwise know as Fanny Hill. He was charged with indecency but was let off as he claimed that he wrote it purely for financial gain. In fact some 200 years later an unedited edition of the book was published and was immediately seized by the police. Officially, Fanny Hill remained suppressed in an unexpurgated form in the United Kingdom until 1970 .

Cleland worked in the field of journalism and wrote several more novels, Memoirs of a Coxcomb (1751), The Surprises of Love (1764), and The Woman of Honour (1768), as well as a number of unproduced plays. He died in 1789.