Written in 1748 while the author was in debtor’s prison in London, it is considered the first original English prose pornography, and the first pornography to use the form of the novel. One of the most prosecuted and banned books in history, it has become a synonym for obscenity.
Being one of the most banned books in history, it was also published a number of times by a number of people (see a list and read about it’s author, John Cleland). Copies of the book were mostly sold “underground” and often without markings on the cover. Many anonymous reprints exist without discernible/reliable publication/printing dates. It was not successfully published uncensored in England until 1970. It was first published in the US in 1821 then immediately banned. In a landmark decision in 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Memoirs v. Massachusetts that the banned novel did not meet the standard for obscenity and could then be published and sold in the US.