Anonymous Writer's Rights

Elena Ferrante

Tax records and literary criticism are strange bedfellows. But in 2016, the two combined and brought into the world a literary controversy — call it the Ferrante Furor. To put it briefly: Elena Ferrante, an admired and cherished Italian novelist, has always made it clear that her name is a pseudonym and her true identity is not for public consumption. However, Claudio Gatti, an investigative journalist, used financial records to, as he put it, "make a powerful case for Ferrante's true identity." The result was published in the New York Review of Books, prompting an uproar from writers and readers. If the Filipino writer of the is exposed, that might push many over the edge. There are already new laws on the books to protect the freedom of speech.

Yamashita's Wedding

Godis Withus Go is the protagonist of the anonymouns book Yamashita’s Wedding set in Manila in 1945.

PREMISE: The history of how Manila was almost saved by Godis Withus Go, the professional filmmaker and accomplished liar, and how Yamashita’s wedding was put on celluloid because eventually, the truth always finds it’s way to film.

In both the Philippines AND in the United States, the right to an anonymous opinion is protected by the First Amendment, and the necessity of protecting it has been repeatedly recognized by the Supreme Courts of both nations.

In the Council of Europe and the European Union, a specific legal position with regard to the right to anonymity was also developed. For example, in May 2003, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a declaration on freedom of communication and the Internet.

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Political or Controversial Books

Throughout the history of literature, since the creation of bound texts in the forms of books and codices, various works have been published and written anonymously, often due to their political or controversial nature, or merely for the purposes of the privacy of their authors, among other reasons. This website provides a list of literary works published anonymously, either attributed to "Anonymous", or with no specific author's name given.

Not included in this list are works which predate the advent of publishing and general attribution of authorship, such as ancient written inscriptions (such as hieroglyphic or pictographical, transcribed texts), certain historical folklore and myths of oral traditions now published as text, and reference or plain texts (letters, notes, graffiti) recovered archaeologically, which are otherwise unimportant to literary studies. Religious texts and grimoires, which are often written anonymously, may appear, along with works initially written anonymously whose authors are now known.

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History of Anonymously Published Books

Ancient Mesopotamia

  • Debate between bird and fish

  • Enûma Eliš

  • Hurrian hymn to Nikkal

  • Inscriptions at Tell Abu Salabikh

  • Instructions of Shuruppak, attributed to the historically debatable Shuruppak

  • Kesh Temple Hymn

  • Sumerian city laments

  • Lament for Ur

  • Lament for Sumer and Ur

  • Lament for Nippur

  • Lament for Eridu

  • Lament for Uruk

  • Sumerian creation myth

Ancient Egypt

  • Ancient Egyptian funerary texts

  • Coffin Texts

  • New Kingdom funerary texts

  • Book of the Dead

  • Amduat

  • Spell of the Twelve Caves

  • The Book of Gates

  • Book of the Netherworld

  • Book of Caverns

  • Book of the Earth

  • Litany of Re

  • Book of the Heavens

  • Pyramid Texts

  • Ancient Egyptian medical papyri

Early Classics

  • I Ching

  • The Aesop Romance

  • Cantar de Mio Cid

  • Beowulf

  • De Dubiis Nominibus

  • Dresden Codex

  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

  • The Second Shepherds' Play

  • "Enchiriadis" texts

  • Scolica enchiriadis

  • Musica enchiriadis

  • The Battle of Maldon

  • Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan

  • Gesta Hungarorum

  • The Secret History of the Mongols

  • St. Erkenwald

  • Corpus Hermeticum

  • Poetic Edda

  • The Lady of Escalot

  • One Thousand and One Nights

15th Century

Modern pasquinades glued to the Pasquino statue in Rome.

The Book of Dede Korkut

The pasquinades (satirical poems) glued to the Talking Statues of Rome. They still appear from time to time.

The Key of Solomon

The Skibby Chronicle

La Farce de maître Pierre Pathelin

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, published anonymously at the time, now considered likely to have been written by Francesco Colonna

The Voynich manuscript

16th Century

Narrative of Some Things of New Spain and of the Great City of Temestitan

Lazarillo de Tormes

Chilam Balam

17th Century

  • Actio Curiosa

  • Theophrastus redivivus

  • The entire catalog of Pierre Marteau

  • All works published after 1788 by Sylvain Maréchal

18th Century

  • An Essay on the Principle of Population by T.R. Malthus, originally published anonymously

  • Anti-Machiavel by Frederick the Great, originally published anonymously

  • Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, originally published anonymously

  • The Sorrows of Yamba by Hannah More, originally published anonymously

  • Common Sense (pamphlet) by Thomas Paine, originally published anonymously

  • The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay; originally published under the pseudonym "Publius"

  • The Animated Skeleton

  • The Cavern of Death

19th Century

  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, originally published anonymously

  • A Brief Inquiry into the Natural Rights of Man

  • A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder by James De Mille, originally published anonymously.

  • Democracy by Henry Adams, originally published anonymously.

  • Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim, originally published anonymously.

  • Fantasmagoriana by Jean-Baptiste Benoît Eyriès, published anonymously.

  • Keep Cool by John Neal, published under the pseudonym "Somebody, M.D.C. &c. &c. &c."

  • Might is Right, published under the pseudonym "Ragnar Redbeard". The most commonly claimed authors are Arthur Desmond or Jack London.

  • Romance of Lust, originally published anonymously but variously attributed to Edward Sellon or William Simpson Potter

  • Supernatural Religion: An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation by Walter Richard Cassels, originally published anonymously.

  • Tales of the Dead, translated by Sarah Elizabeth Utterson, published anonymously.

  • Tamerlane and Other Poems, the first published collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe, originally published anonymously.

  • The Log-Cabin Lady

  • The Princess Ilsée

  • The String of Pearls

  • The Way of a Pilgrim

  • The Great Organ in the Boston Music Hall

  • Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by Robert Chambers (publisher, born 1802), as only revealed after his death

20th Century

  • The Autobiography of a Flea erotic novel published in 1901.

  • The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, the story of a young biracial man, was published anonymously in 1912 by James Weldon Johnson who revealed himself as the author in 1927.

  • Demian by Hermann Hesse, originally published under the pseudonym "Emil Sinclair"

  • Go Ask Alice, now known to have been written by Beatrice Sparks.

  • The Occult Technology of Power

  • A Woman in Berlin, an anonymous diary detailing experiences of a German woman as Germany is defeated in World War II.

  • Primary Colors, published anonymously. Journalist Joe Klein was immediately suspected as the author. He originally denied it, but admitted authorship within six months.

21st Century

  • Four Films and Yamashita's Wedding

  • Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto.

  • Bourbon Kid, an ongoing supernatural horror series first published in 2000[1]

  • The Bride Stripped Bare, an erotic novel published in 2003; soon after, the author was revealed as the Australian writer Nikki Gemmell.

  • Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama Bin Laden, Radical Islam and the Future of America (2003) and Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2004) – both revealed to have been written by former CIA employee Michael Scheuer.

  • Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook (2004) - published by the CrimethInc. collective.

  • My Immortal (2005) – A work of fiction settled in the Harry Potter universe involving goth subculture which has become a cult phenomenon.

  • Rolling Thunder (2005–2014) – eleven issues of "an anarchist journal of dangerous living" published the CrimethInc collective.

  • Diary of an Oxygen Thief (2006) – A Dutch novel about the independent art, literature, and music scene in Brooklyn, New York.

  • O: A Presidential Novel (2011) – ISBN 978-1-4516-2596-7. A speculative novel about President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. The publishers, Simon & Schuster, claim that the book was written by someone who was "in the room" with the President.

  • The Incest Diary (2017)

  • A Warning (2019) – A book written by anonymously by Trump senior official Miles Taylor that expands upon I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration (2018) from the New York Times.

  • Maybe I'm Wrong (2020) - A book written anonymously by a medical doctor on post-covid societal changes. It proposed a novel theory to explain human behaviour.

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