By John Cleland
Considered the first true erotic novel, Cleland wrote “Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” in 1749 while he was in debtor's prison in London, or so the legend has it.
A true game changer, it was the first of its kind — an English novel whose plot was just about one thing — sex. His first version landed Cleland back in jail, charged with publishing an obscene book. One year later, a censored version called “Memoirs of Fanny Hill” was issued and survived a prosecution attempt by the bishop of London.
Shrouded in controversy for more than 250 years, the uncensored version remained banned in the U.S. until the mid-1960s and in Britain until 1970. It's now available for free on the Internet.