For over ten years, from 1968 to 1981, the Erotic Arts Book Society operated from a small office in New York’s Broadway. Unfortunately its vision was larger than its coffers, so though it produced a monthly bulletin, titled Liaison, reviewing new books in the genre, it only ever succeeded in producing half a dozen books of its own, mostly rather mundane anthologies of erotic art through the ages.
It did, however, produce one original masterpiece, an edition of John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, which was first published in England in 1748. More popularly known as Fanny Hill (the name of the novel’s female protagonist), due to its sexual content the book came to be one of the most controversial and banned books in the history of literature, a revelation in that it incorporated pornographic scenes in a novelistic form, a feat never previously undertaken in English literature. Following the young Fanny Hill from her village home to London, the novel depicts her sexual undoing.
The Society chose Zevi Blum to produce a set of illustrations, and commissioned the then-notorious author Erica Jong to write a new introduction. The Illustrated Fanny Hill went through several printings, culminating in the large-format ‘Ne Plus Ultra Edition’, which is where this set of detailed line drawings appears. They are the only explicitly erotic drawings to be made by Blum, the more direct by being drawn in delicate black ink on a white ground. They are some of the best Fanny Hill illustrations ever created.