While perusing Amazon for a copy of Fanny Hill, I was overwhelmed by the many editions of this book. I am not sure why I should be so shocked, the brazen novel was published in 1749, allowing for many versions to be released over the centuries. But what is it about this book where we are still interesting in reading it here in the 21st century? Was it great literature? Nope, not really. It was smut, written by John Cleland in an attempt to escape debtor's prison.
Originally published as Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, the novel would come to be known by the name of its main character which sounds strangely enough like a naughty lady-bit. Fanny is an orphan teenager who moves to London and takes lodgings with a madam who wastes no time transforming the young girl into a prostitute. But instead of this being the same moralistic story as Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, Fanny enjoy her various sexual exploits which, like our modern pornos, are more plentiful than the plot line is complicated. Yes, Cleland was not out to open the eyes of the public to the plights of poor women; he was in the entertainment business.
Now, the problem is quite opposite. There are so many editions of the book, I can't even decide which to choose! I'm torn between these two (below), since they're both from indie publishers. I'm leaning toward the second one but worried it's from too late an edition. Oh dilemmas.
Check out some of the covers from some of the many editions. I was surprised by the amount with 19th century paintings and there are a plethora of different and creative covers which I found quite interesting.