Speculation over the identity of a call girl blogger reached fever pitch this week as UK newspapers battled unsuccessfully to reveal the true identity of the author.

The Belle de Jour blog has become a cult hit in the past few months, but many UK newspapers - including the Times, the Sunday Times and the Independent - believe the blog is fictional and possibly written by a man.

Belle de Jour writes explicitly about 'her' experiences as a London prostitute, describing her encounters with clients, her madam and her lovers. She claims to be a humanities graduate with a taste for expensive lingerie, living and working in North London.

Despite being labelled 'the happy hooker' by the Times after signing a lucrative book deal, Belle de Jour used the blog to deny that the contract was worth six figures.

"Wasn't it Tallulah Bankhead who said only good girls keep diaries and bad girls haven't the time?" wrote Belle in her blog on 23 March.

"I'm setting out to prove her wrong."

The Times even employed writing expert Professor Don Foster to trace the identity of the blogger. Using examples of her writing, Professor Foster identified her 'linguistic fingerprint' through her use of compound verbs, dashes and brackets, and then used search engine Google to find similar passages of writing.

Despite a background dealing with high profile subjects such as Monica Lewinsky and the Unabomber, Professor Foster's 20-minute investigation led him incorrectly to San Francisco-based journalist Sarah Champion.

IT news site the Register also came under scrutiny, with the Times investigating journalist Andrew Orlowski as the possible mastermind behind the blog.

"I'm shocked," he told the Register at the weekend.

"To be accused of being a whore is one thing, but to be accused of being a weblogger is actionable."

The Belle de Jour blog:

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