Download Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature by John Mullan PDF

By John Mullan

A number of the maximum works in English literature have been first released with out their authors' names. Why did such a lot of authors are looking to be anonymous--and what was once it wish to learn their books with no realizing for sure who had written them? In Anonymity, John Mullan offers a desirable and unique heritage of hidden id in English literature. From the 16th century to this present day, he explores how the disguises of writers have been first used and finally penetrated, how anonymity teased readers and bamboozled critics--and how, whilst publication experiences have been additionally nameless, reviewers performed tips in their personal in go back. this day we now have forgotten that the 1st readers of Gulliver's Travels and experience and Sensibility needed to bet who their authors should be, and that writers like Sir Walter Scott and Charlotte Bront went to complex lengths to maintain mystery their authorship of the best-selling books in their instances. yet, actually, anonymity is far and wide in English literature. Spenser, Donne, Marvell, Defoe, fast, 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 paced, interesting, and informative journey during the background of English literature.

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Sample text

Whatever the sales of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, finally published in , and its sequel seven years later, Through the Looking-Glass, the works of Lewis Carroll were to be considered, by their author as well as by their readers, as taking their life from a special relationship with children. They hardly belonged to the realm of commercial authorship. In his preface to Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, which Dodgson published in facsimile some twenty years after Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll explained that ‘nothing of reward is hoped for’ from his work ‘but a little child’s whispered thanks and the airy touch of a little child’s pure lips’.

Handwriting has always been the truest proof of authorship. 10:37:15:11:07 Page 40 Page 41 2 modesty Some famous authors have really not wanted to be known. When the first volume of Halkett and Laing’s great Dictionary of the Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature of Great Britain was published in , one of the most famous literary pseudonyms of the age was missing. In November , Rev. C. L. Dodgson had written to Catherine Laing, who had taken on the editing of the great reference work when her father died, imploring her ‘most earnestly and urgently’ not to identify him as ‘Lewis Carroll’ in the forthcoming book.

Neither claims nor acknowledges any connection with any pseudonym, or with any book that is not published under his own name’.  Over and over again he begged friends not to mention his real name in connection with the Alice books. When he wrote to the wife of the Professor of Divinity at Oxford asking her not to give away any specimen of his handwriting, he said of his request, It is a thing I often have to do – people seeming to assume that everybody likes notoriety, and scarcely believing me when I say I dislike it particularly.

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