Fears author 'Elena Ferrante' may never write again after 'unmasking' by Italian journalist

Cult best-selling author Elena Ferrante has used the pseudonym since publishing her first work in 1992, but her real name may have finally been revealed. Photo / Getty Images
Cult best-selling author Elena Ferrante has used the pseudonym since publishing her first work in 1992, but her real name may have finally been revealed. Photo / Getty Images

She has won a Booker Prize and was this year named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people, but Elena Ferrante's greatest achievement has arguably been keeping her real identity secret for 24 years.

The author has used the pseudonym since publishing her first work in 1992 - but her real name may have finally been revealed.

Italian journalist Claudio Gatti has published a story for the New York Review of Books claiming that the novelist is Anita Raja, a translator from Rome.

However, instead of an outpouring of relief that one of the biggest mysteries in the literature world may have finally been cracked, fans are up in arms that her privacy has been jeopardised and now fear that she may never write again.

Kimberly Burns said on Twitter: "Shameful. If Elena Ferrante doesn't write another book, it is because of the attention-hungry egos of Claudio Gatti & @nybooks editors."

Renowned feminist Roxane Gay posted: "I've never wondered about Elena Ferrante's true identity. Who cares? That info doesn't change my life. Or make her books better. Ban men."

Maaza Mengiste added: "What's ultimately at stake is a writer's right to privacy, a woman's right to control her life, the freedom to simply write."



In response, the journalist cited a "legitimate right for readers to know ... as they have made her such a superstar."

Mr Gatti reviewed payments made by her publisher, Edizione e/o. linking payments to Ms Raja, who has been touted as the real Ferrante previously, that appeared to increase relatively in a timeline matching the success of her books.

Trying to debunk a theory that Ferrante is actually Ms Raja's husband, Domenico Starnone, he says in his article: "In the records I obtained, no other of the publishing house's executives, staff, writers, and freelance contributors are shown as receiving such generous compensation in 2014 and 2015.

"Raja alone received vast increases in pay in those years, the most recent on record. Domenico Starnone, in particular, who has published his own novels with other publishing houses, did not receive any large payment from Edizioni e/o in these years.

"Raja's work as a translator-a notoriously poorly paid occupation-can hardly account for her anomalously large income."

Many speculative theories have been banded around as to who the acclaimed author really is.

Ferrante has made the conscious decision since her first book, Frantumaglia, not to be known to the public.

Neapolitan professor Marcella Marmo's name was suggested as being the real writer in a study earlier this year, but this was vehemently denied.

Ferrante's works, including the acclaimed Neapolitan Novels, have sold around 2.6million books in the English-language market and a further one million in her native Italy.

When asked by The Guardian in an email interview why she keeps her identity so closely veiled, she said: "The wish to remove oneself from all forms of social pressure or obligation.

"Not to feel tied down to what could become one's public image. To concentrate exclusively and with complete freedom on writing and its strategies."

- Daily Mail

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