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It was once suspected that the sodomy scene near the end that Fanny witnesses in disgust was an interpolation made for these pirated editions, but as Peter Sabor states in the introduction to the Oxford edition of Memoirs (1985), that scene is present in the first edition (p.
In the 19th century, copies of the book sold underground in the UK, the US and elsewhere.
At the same time, two officers from the vice squad visited Mayflower Books in Vauxhall Bridge Road to determine whether quantities of the book were kept on the premises.
The book eventually made its way to the United States.
In 1821, in the first known obscenity case in the United States, a Massachusetts court outlawed Fanny Hill.
The police became aware of the 1963 edition a few days before publication, after spotting a sign in the window of the Magic Shop in Tottenham Court Road in London, run by Ralph Gold.
An officer went to the shop and bought a copy and delivered it to the Bow Street magistrate Sir Robert Blundell, who issued a search warrant.
They interviewed the publisher, Gareth Powell, and took away the only five copies there.
The publisher, Peter Holmes, was convicted for printing a "lewd and obscene" novel.
Written while the author was in debtors' prison in London, Initially, there was no governmental reaction to the novel, and it was only in November 1749, a year after the first instalment was published, that Cleland and Ralph Griffiths were arrested and charged with "corrupting the King's subjects." In court, Cleland renounced the novel and it was officially withdrawn.
However, as the book became popular, pirate editions appeared.
Holmes appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.
Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (popularly known as Fanny Hill) is an erotic novel by English novelist John Cleland first published in London in 1748.