The author of Belle du Jour, the anonymous online diary of a British call girl which was made into a television series and a string of best-selling books, has finally revealed herself as cancer researcher Dr. Brooke Magnanti.
Her identity has been one of the great literary mysteries of the decade after the publication of bestselling books about her secret life as a prostitute. Magnanti is a respected specialist in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology in a hospital research group in Bristol. Six years ago, in the final stages of her PhD thesis, she ran out of money and turned to prostitution through a London escort agency, charging £300 an hour. Already an experienced science blogger, she began writing about her experiences in a web diary that was adapted into books and a television drama starring Billie Piper. There has been huge speculation about Belle’s real identity, including a theory that she was a well-known author because of the quality of her writing. The blog and books were also criticised for suggesting prostitution could be glamorous. Last week Magnanti contacted one of Belle’s sternest critics, India Knight, the Sunday Times columnist, saying she wanted to reveal her identity.
On her blog, yesterday Magnanti wrote:
Anonymity had a purpose then – it will always have a reason to exist, for writers whose work is too damaging or too controversial to put their names on. But for me, it became important to acknowledge that aspect of my life and my personality to the world at large. I am a woman. I lived in London. I was a call girl. The people, the places, the actions and feelings are as true now as they were then, and I stand behind every word with pride. Thank you for reading and following my adventures.
RELATED: Back in the wee days of this here website thingy, Belle was one of very first to place me on her very short blogroll, an honor I shared with the then-unknown (but future Oscar winner) Diablo Cody, who did likewise and the hits rained in from both. I find it rather charming that JMG was kick-started by a hooker and a stripper. (And by British music blogger Troubled Diva, who also gave Belle early notice and has apparently known who she was for quite some time. Read his post about Belle’s outing and his torture to keep her secret.)