A long & honorable tradition

April 2, 2015

Tags: personae, alter ego, Maria Mancini, KOFF

Thomas Chatterton (1752–70)
The tradition of fictional personae and false attribution goes back pretty much as far as writing has existed. There are Greek, Biblical, and classical works where the claimed author is not who really wrote it. Homer didn't write Homer, King David didn't write the psalms.

Some writers use pseudonyms: George Eliot, Mark Twain, and there are people who invent a whole separate person, an alter ego (Latin for "the other I"). In the literary world it's common: Chatterton attributed a series of poems to a 15th-century priest named Thomas Rowley; James Macpherson wrote the works supposedly composed by a 3rd century Scottish bard named Ossian (and incidentally (more…)