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Brooke Magnanti, Anonymous Blogger, Revealed: British Scientist Is Belle De Jour, Former Prostitute

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LONDON — A British scientist says she is Belle de Jour, the anonymous blogger whose accounts of life as a call girl were turned into books and a TV series.

Brooke Magnanti was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying she decided to reveal her secret because she was afraid an ex-boyfriend would expose her.

Magnanti, 34, is a child health researcher at the University of Bristol in western England. She told the newspaper she turned to the sex trade in 2003 while finishing her Ph.D. and worked as an escort for more than a year.

She blogged about the experience in the guise of Belle de Jour, a legal secretary who moonlights as a sex worker.

The blog formed the basis of three books and the British TV series "Secret Diary of a Call Girl," shown on Showtime in the United States.

Debate swirled about whether the anonymous author was real or fictional, and Belle de Jour was accused by some of glamorizing prostitution.

Magnanti said on her blog Sunday she was relieved "to be able to defend what my experience of sex work is like to all the skeptics and doubters."

Magnanti said her scientific colleagues had been "amazingly kind and supportive" about the news. The university said her past was not relevant to her current job.

Her publisher, Orion, said in a statement that it was "a courageous decision for Belle de Jour to come forward with her true identity and we support her decision to do so."