If you haven't read My Brilliant Friend yet (and why haven't you?!), you've almost definitely seen a copy of it in a bookshop window, or being read by the person opposite you on the tube. The book and its subsequent volumes follow the turbulent friendship between two girls growing up in poverty-stricken Naples in the late 1950s, with deliciously vivid descriptions of the protagonists, leading critics to hail Ferrante as the new Jane Austen. But just who is the writer behind the unputdownable Neopolitan novels? This has been the question on everyone's lips all summer, as conspiracy theories abounded. It seems the identity of this extraordinary enigma has now been solved by one of Italy's investigative journalists. Claudio Gatti reported on Sunday that the author of My Brilliant Friend is in fact, drum roll, Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator, who was born in Naples in 1953 and used to head a publishing imprint of Italian authors. Although many readers are now fuming that the author who so fervently tried to guard her anonymity has been unveiled, the news has ended speculation that Ferrante is actually a man, adding to history's list of talented anonymous female writers. Here is a list of other fabulous female authors, who have hidden their identities behind alternative aliases.
1) The notoriously talented Brontë siblings first
published their work under the male pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, as female authors at the time were liable to be discriminated.
2) Louisa May Alcott, the author behind Little Women, used the ambiguous A.M. Barnard for her sensational gothic thrillers, which featured material that was deemed 'unfit' for a female writer.
3) Mary Ann Evans, a prolific writer of the Victorian era, is best known by her male pseudonym, George Eliot. Her book, Middlemarch, is considered by many to be one of the greatest English novels ever written.
4) J. K. Rowling, mastermind behind the infamous Harry Potter series, was encouraged by her publishers to publish using only her initials to deliberately keep her gender under wraps, believing that pre-teen boys wouldn't want to read books about wizards written by a woman.
5) Nelle Harper Lee, famed for her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, wrote under the abbreviated name Harper Lee, making her authorship androgynous. Although her only novel, it won the prestigious Pulitzer prize, and has become a staple in every secondary school child's reading list.