John Cleland (1721–1771) was an English novelist.
His best-known book, Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749; banned as obscene for many years), includes a scene in which Fanny watches fascinated as two young men have sex. This, and the fact that the many heterosexual sex scenes in the book are written from a woman's point of view, have led to speculation that Cleland might have been gay.
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- David Leavitt, introduction to the Penguin edition of E M Forster's Maurice, page xxxii.
- David M Robinson, Closeted writing and lesbian and gay literature: classical, early modern, eighteenth-century. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2006. page 38. ISBN 0-7546-5550-4.