Italian reporter ‘discovers’ identity of writer Elena Ferrante
Investigation criticised as invasion of privacy of both writer and Neapolitan Novels publisher
Novels by Elena Ferrante: The apparent revelation of Ferrante’s identity prompted a widespread backlash that questioned whether the age-old practice of using a nom de plume ought to be subjected to such scrutiny. Photograph: Chris Warde-Jones/The New York Times
An Italian investigative journalist claims to have solved one of modern literature’s greatest mysteries – who is Elena Ferrante?
Ferrante is the best-selling author of the Neapolitan Novels which follow the lives of two girls in Naples, but who, despite his or her success, has shunned the limelight.
Now Claudio Gatti, a journalist for financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, claims he has probably discovered the identity of the novelist.
Mr Gatti wrote that property records involving the purported actual writer, as well as revenue and payment details involving Ferrante’s publishing house Edizioni e/o, indicate that Ferrante is a Rome-based book translator married to a Neapolitan writer.
His article was also published by the New York Review of Books, which headlined its version “Elena Ferrante: An Answer?”.
The Italian reporter wrote that “after a months-long investigation it is now possible to make a powerful case for Ferrante’s true identity”.
He contends that the real author had a years-long relationship with Ferrante’s publishing house as a translator of German literature.
Mr Gatti says the publisher, Edizioni e/o, refused to comment, adding that one of its owners said the investigation constituted an invasion of privacy of both Ferrante and the publisher.
Countless authors have found literary freedom by writing under a pseudonym to preserve their anonymity. To embark on a series of detective novels, JK Rowling famously wrote under the name Robert Galbraith.
But whereas Rowling was attempting to cloak her fame, Ferrante remained anonymous in the hope of protecting her privacy.
She has previously, in written interviews, suggested she would stop writing if her identity was revealed.
“I’ve never wondered about Elena Ferrante’s true identity,” author Roxanne Gay said on Twitter.
“Who cares? That info doesn’t change my life. Or make her books better. Ban men.”
“Maybe Elena Ferrante has very good reasons to write under a pseudonym. It’s not our ‘right’ to know her,” tweeted British novelist Jojo Moyes.
Ferrante has a loyal following. Her publishers’ website notes that US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she enjoys reading Ferrante’s novels, describing them as “hypnotic”.