Review by DAPHNE LEE
By John Mullan
Publisher: Faber and Faber, 374 pages
AS a journalist (lately a freelance one) I have never published work anonymously but have done so using various pseudonyms. My reasons have included the desire to disassociate myself from what I consider hack jobs, and to avoid trouble in instances when the subject matter might be deemed controversial. Pseudonimity may be as effective as anonymity when used to hide the identity of the author.
Many classic works of literature were first published without their author's names or under false names. It was so common to publish anonymously or puedonymously in the 18th and 19th century that a Dictionary of the Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature of Great Britain was published in 1882 - begun in the 1850s, it ran to four volumes when finally completed. In 1934, additional volumes were published and in 1962, the final edition numbered nine volumes in all. Even so, the book does not list works whose authors' identities have not been revealed - and a quick search online will reveal that there are many famous quotes that remain anonymous.
In Anonymity, John Mullan explores why many authors of English literature chose to publish anonymously. He looks at the different circumstances and motives behind authors' decisions to hide who they were; the effect an author's anonymity had on his or her readers; and the reaction of the public and press when the author's identity was finally revealed.