Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature by John Mullan

By John Mullan

A number of the maximum works in English literature have been first released with no their authors' names. Why did such a lot of authors are looking to be anonymous--and what used to be it prefer to learn their books with no realizing for convinced who had written them? In Anonymity, John Mullan offers a desirable and unique background of hidden identification in English literature. From the 16th century to at the present time, he explores how the disguises of writers have been first used and at last penetrated, how anonymity teased readers and bamboozled critics--and how, while e-book stories have been additionally nameless, reviewers performed methods in their personal in go back. at the present time now we have forgotten that the 1st readers of Gulliver's Travels and feel and Sensibility needed to wager who their authors could be, and that writers like Sir Walter Scott and Charlotte Bront went to difficult lengths to maintain mystery their authorship of the best-selling books in their occasions. yet, in reality, anonymity is far and wide in English literature. Spenser, Donne, Marvell, Defoe, rapid, Fanny Burney, Austen, Byron, Thackeray, Lewis Carroll, Tennyson, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, and Doris Lessing--all concealed their names. With nice lucidity and wit, Anonymity tells the tales of those and plenty of different writers, supplying a fast moving, pleasing, and informative journey throughout the background of English literature.

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Editors of New York had reached for literary expertise, asking Professor Donald Foster, a Shakespeare scholar specializing in computer analysis of the styles of individual writers, to give his verdict. Quantitative analysis of the otherwise insignificant verbal tics of particular writers has for some time been a small part of Shakespeare studies; scholars have wanted to know what proportions of particular 10:37:15:11:07 Page 34 Page 35 mischief 35 plays are likely to have been written by Shakespeare or collaborators like Middleton, and have often had only stylistic evidence to go on.

Primary Colors, published in the United States in January , was a roman-à-clef. In this type of fiction characters are recognizable, at least to some readers, as versions of certain real people. Those in the know are expected to work out the correspondences. The reader who knows that it is fiction ‘with a key’ will be admitted to a partly hidden world, described with an insider’s knowledge. This was all certainly the case with Primary Colors, subtitled ‘A Novel of Politics’, which told the story of Jack Stanton, a Democrat contender for the American Presidency, as he fought his way through the primaries that would decide his party’s nomination.

The exemplary female author in this respect was the Countess of Pembroke (Mary Herbert), younger sister of Sir Philip Sidney.

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