13:49 16 November 2009
A former prostitute whose memoirs inspired the TV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl has revealed her true identity.
Dr Brooke Magnanti adopted the pen name Belle de Jour to describe the encounters she had as a high-class call girl while earning cash to go towards her debts and tuition fees for her PhD.
The 34-year-old decided to come clean because the stress of deceiving her loved ones and colleagues was making her paranoid.
Public interest in her identity dramatically increased when her memoirs became a television series starring Billie Piper (pictured top right) in the title role.
Dr Magnanti (pictured right), who is now a research scientist for The Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health, became a call girl because she needed a job that left her enough time during the day to complete her studies.
Dr Magnanti told the Sunday Times she worked as a prostitute from 2003 to late 2004, and found it "so much more enjoyable" than previous job as a computer programmer.
She told the newspaper 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.
"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 the University of Bristol where she works, said: "This aspect of Dr Magnanti's past is not relevant to her current role at the university."
The spokesman also added that Dr Magnanti's revelations would not affect her chances of future employment within 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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