Exposed: the most intimate secret of erotic blogger Belle de Jour

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Years of guessing end as the sex writer is revealed as a scientist from Bristol

As an anonymous blogger, Belle de Jour became an internet phenomenon with her Diary of a London Call Girl, and a publisher's dream with her bestselling memoirs explicitly detailing her many encounters.

Now, Belle, who has ended six years of fervent speculation by revealing her identity, is hoping to repeat her literary success with the publication of her first novel under her real name: Brooke Magnanti. Whether her fans will want to read the fictive writings of a 34-year-old research scientist from Bristol, rather than the scintillating memoirs of a prostitute commanding £300-an-hour prices, will be revealed when her book is published by around 2012.

But at least she can go to her book launch. She had to forgo the parties her publisher, Orion, has thrown for her since her debut, The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, was published in 2005, for fear of being found out.

Ms Magnanti, from Bristol, who specialises in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology, at the Bristol Institute of Child Health, turned to prostitution to fund herself while completing a PhD in London. Her decision to reveal her identity was hastened by a former boyfriend who threatened to expose her.

Yesterday she confirmed the move on her blog, maintaining that she was proud of her past. "Now I'm not anonymous ... Belle and the person who wrote her had been apart too long. I had to bring them back together ... It feels so much better on this side. Not to have to tell lies, hide things from the people I care about. To be able to defend what my experience of sex work is like to all the sceptics and doubters ... I stand behind every word with pride."

Patrick Walsh, her literary agent, one of a circle of people who have kept her real name a secret, told The Independent that she had been "amused rather than irritated" by the many theories that ranged over her identity. There had been up to 12 high-profile suspects, including the former editor of the Erotic Review, Rowan Pelling, and the British journalist, Toby Young. Her story was also dramatised in a TV series starring Billie Piper.

Ms Pelling met Ms Magnanti when she commissioned her to write a column for the Erotic Review. She said yesterday: "I think she told us she was a humanities graduate rather than a scientist. I remember thinking it was clear she was smart, and it was clear she had worked as a call girl."

Ms Pelling added her life was disrupted by the media campaign to uncover Belle's identity when it focused on her. She said: "I was heavily followed. They phoned me and my friends. It started off being funny but at the end, when I was nine months pregnant, it wasn't."

Toby Young said he was "flattered" to have been mistaken for Belle. He added: "I always thought it smacked of authenticity. I never thought it was a journalist making it up and I think she writes very well."

Names in the frame: Other suspects

*The revelation of the true identity of Belle de Jour has ended years of speculation. In 2005, The Sunday Times wrote that the sex diary was "largely the work of Lisa Hilton, a British author based in America, who has written about her own steamy sex life in the past".

Other newspapers, (including The Independent) carried various theories placing Toby Young, the British journalist and author of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, in the frame; some suggested the likely suspect might be Sarah Champion, a writer from Manchester who specialises in alternative culture while others thought it was written by Andrew Orlowski, an author who had collaborated with Ms Champion, or Michel Faber, the Dutch novelist who lives in Scotland and whose novel The Crimson Petal and the White described the life of a Victorian call girl.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future