A copy of an 18th century book of pornographic prose labelled as “the most famous banned book in the country” has sold for nine times its guide price.
Memoirs Of The Life Of Miss Fanny Hill, The Career Of A Woman Of Pleasure, London, by John Cleland, sold for £360 despite only being estimated at £40-£60.
Cleland was arrested and handed a jail sentence for obscenity after the book was published in 1748, and it was banned from publication in America until 1966 and in the UK until 1970.
The copy sold at auction was an edition from 1880, and Jim Spencer, antiquarian books expert at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire, said: “I wasn’t surprised to see this book do well. We had strong interest prior to the sale. It sold to a private UK buyer.
“It was one of the most prosecuted and banned books in history, the first English pornographic prose.
“Today Fanny Hill is considered an important piece of political parody and sexual philosophy.”
Mr Spencer, who found the book by chance after cataloguing items in his saleroom, added: “It stands as one of the great works of 18th century fiction for its unique combination of parody, erotica and philosophy of sensuality.
“Some of the terminology in the book raises a smile.
“Cleland boasted that he could write a sexually exciting story without using a single foul word. Instead he conjured up descriptions such as Red Headed Champion, The Engine of Love Assaults, Stiff Staring Truncheon and Sturdy Stallion.”