John Cleland (/ˈkliːlənd/; baptised 24 September 1709 – 23 January 1789) was an English novelist best known as the author of Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. James Boswell called him “a sly, old malcontent”.
John Cleland was the eldest son of the Scot William Cleland (1673/4 – 1741) and Lucy Cleland (née DuPass). He was born in Kingston upon Thames in Surrey but grew up in London, where his father was first an officer in the British Army and then a civil servant. William Cleland was a friend to Alexander Pope, and Lucy Cleland was a friend or acquaintance of Pope, Viscount Bolingbroke, Chesterfield, and Horace Walpole. The family possessed wealth and moved among the finest literary and artistic circles of London.