Does the public have a right to know who is behind a series of critically acclaimed, bestselling books that have touched peoples' lives around the world? Or is an artist's true identity their and theirs alone, until the point when they're willing to face public scrutiny? These are the questions at the centre of the mystery surrounding the novelist Elena Ferrante, author of the hugely popular and highly acclaimed Neapolitan series, whose true identity was exposed this weekend. In an article published in the New York Review of Books and Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, journalist Claudio Gatti unmasked the author, identifying her as a Rome-based translator who previously worked as the coordinator of an imprint of Italian writers. (We're not going to include the author's real name here, but it has been widely reported elsewhere if you're interested.) Gatti determined Ferrante's identity by scouring real estate records which allegedly pointed to Ferrante and her husband having bought multimillion euro properties in Rome at the same time she became an international bestseller. Rumours circulated about Ferrante's identity for years, but any evidence to support the many speculations had been largely absent until now. Ferrante had given numerous justifications for her anonymity over the years. In an interview with The Gentlewoman, Ferrante said she wanted to protect the Neapolitan community that had inspired her work. She also wanted to avoid the limelight, saying she didn't want to feel bound to a public persona and wanted freedom "to concentrate exclusively and with complete freedom on writing and its strategies". This is why Ferrante fans and the wider literary community have reacted angrily to the unmasking of the much-loved author. Author Jojo Moyes echoed many by tweeting that the public doesn't have a "right" to know Ferrante's identity, while author Matt Haig called the pursuit to reveal her identity "a disgrace and also pointless".
Others said investigative journalists should channel their efforts into exposing more important things.
Author Maaza Mengiste made an important feminist point.
While others criticised people's nosiness and hunger for truth in an age where our personal information is widely available online.
Ferrante's publisher also slammed the author's unmasking, calling Gatti's journalism "disgusting". Sandro Ferri told The Guardian: “We just think that this kind of journalism is disgusting. Searching in the wallet of a writer who has just decided not to be ‘public’.” The woman named as the real Elena Ferrante is yet to confirm the accusations. Although the unmasking has angered many, it has at least quietened down the long-running speculation that Ferrante is actually a man.