Page last updated at 18:17 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

Belle de Jour drops her anonymity

sex worker
Dr Magnanti says she has no regrets about her experiences

A former prostitute whose memoirs were turned into the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, starring Billie Piper, has revealed her true identity.

Dr Brooke Magnanti wrote under the pen name Belle de Jour to describe the encounters she had as a high-class call girl while earning money for her PhD.

The 34-year-old said she decided to unmask herself because the stress of the deceit was making her paranoid.

Interest in her identity increased when her memoirs became a television series.

Dr Magnanti, who now lives in Bristol and is a research scientist for The Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health, became a prostitute because she needed a job that left her enough time to complete her studies.

She kept her double life a secret even when she started the blog describing her experiences and the books which followed.

It feels so much better on this side. Not to have to tell lies, hide things from the people I care about
Belle de Jour blog

Dr Magnanti told the Sunday Times she worked as a prostitute from 2003 to late 2004, and found it "so much more enjoyable" than her shifts in another job as a computer programmer.

She told the newspaper "I don't want this massive secret over me any more," and that she feared an ex-boyfriend might reveal the true identity of Belle de Jour.

Sunday's entry on the blog said: "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.

"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.

'Pride'

"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."

A spokesman for her employer, the University of Bristol, said: "This aspect of Dr Magnanti's past is not relevant to her current role at the university."

The spokesman added that Dr Magnanti's revelations would not affect her chances of future employment with the university.

A statement on the website of Orion Books, which published Belle de Jour's novels, said: "It's a courageous decision for Belle de Jour to come forward with her true identity and we support her decision to do so.

"We have published her since 2005 and we are looking forward to continuing that relationship."



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