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Anonymous Author

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An author who doesn't want their authorship known will use a Pen Name. An author who wants everyone to know they don't want their authorship known will use Anonymous, or a pen name that very obviously presents itself as a pen name.

This is done to convey the impression — which may even be true — that the author would be in trouble were his or her identity known. So it's often done with controversial works, or works that wish to present themselves as such, and with exposes.

Compare Pen Name and Alan Smithee. Contrast Same Face, Different Name, where the pseudonym may not even be particularly opaque and serves largely to emphasize Genre Adultery. See also Reclusive Artist for artists who are secretive.



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    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics:
    • Brotherhood, about the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, was apparently written by "X". Popular opinion has it that this was Howard Mackie, but the truth has never been revealed.
    • The Generic Comic Book is credited to "An Author, a Pencilist, an Inker, a Colorist and a Letterist."
  • Farlaine the Goblin was originally published anonymously, but the author finally settled on a pen name "Pug Grumble" after a few years because he realized not having a name made it difficult for people to follow up on new books in the series. Also, he goes to comic conventions and more and more started requiring some sort of name before they could be given a table space.

    Fan Works 

  • A Prussian nobleman wrote plays under the name J.E. Mand — jemand is German for "someone."
  • The Bride Stripped Bare. Australian Nikki Gemmell eventually revealed her authorship.
  • The Name Of This Book Is Secret and its sequels by Pseudonymous Bosch, although it's pretty much confirmed by now that he's author Raphael Simon.
  • Frankenstein, on its initial publication, to hide that the author was a young woman.
  • During her lifetime, Jane Austen's novels only identified the author with the words "By a Lady". Parodying this, The Two Ronnies serial "The Phantom Raspberry Blower of Old London Town" was credited to "Spike Milligan & A Gentleman" (The Gentleman being Ronnie Barker).
  • The Federalist Papers was published under with the pseudonym "Publius". The papers were drafted in response to the Anti-Federalist Papers, a series of parallel essays, published under the pseudonyms "Cato", "Brutus", "Centinel", and "Federal Farmer".
  • The author of Girl: “Who are you?” Alien: “Er, I’m an alien.” is completely anonymous. Not even so much as a pen name or username is given, as the forum the story was posted on allowed users to post without revealing their names.
  • Andrew Marvell is largely remembered today for his poetry under his own name. However, he also wrote satire, some of it attacking dangerously powerful people — so that tended to appear anonymously during his lifetime.
  • Before his death in 2006, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is believed to have written four novels, all of which were heavy in metaphor. Hussein wrote the first two under the name "He Who Wrote It," a classic way to preserve anonymity among Arabs.
  • Parodied in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down. Greg has to write an author biography for school, so he picks the guy who writes the Goosebumps knockoff Spinetinglers. The author's name is obviously fake ("I.M. Spooky") and the About the Author section mentions nothing about him besides the fact that he's still working on new books. For his biography, Greg puts "???" under every section besides his name.

    Live-Action Television 
  • The identity of George Kelting, star of The Television Ghost, was kept a secret during the show's run in the early 1930s. His name was only revealed in the 1986 book American Television Drama: The Experimental Years.

  • In 1989, a song called "Spelling on the Stone", a jokey reference to the Elvis Lives myth, was released by an unknown Elvis impersonator with no name put on the single or album. Despite being issued on a major Country Music label (Curb Records) and spending some time on the Billboard charts, the song's performer has never been identified.

    Video Games 
  • Many unlicensed multicarts, and pirated versions of games typically have the company who made that bootleg go without credit, mainly to avoid lawsuits. There are several exceptions though, mainly when it comes to the cracking scene (e.g. Anthrox, Red Sector, Vision Factory, and Anthrax), and games that don't infringe on people's copyrights (e.g. Color Dreams, Open Corp., American Video Entertainment, and Idea-Tek).
  • Many of the credits in Mega Man II are aliases, e.g. Inafking, Tom Pon, 2m03cm Man, Yuukichan's Papa, Fish Man, etc.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Very little is known about the person who makes OverSimplified, including his name (he's normally referred to as "OverSimplified" the few times he refers to himself in third person).

  • Vox and King Beau is a Creepypasta originally posted on /x/ that takes the format of a young woman named Vox who posts on /x/ looking for advice. The author of the story never goes by anything other than Vox or hints to the story being fictional at all.
  • cool and new web comic is a parody of Homestuck by an author known as "o". There are many theories as to who the author is, to the point that the very mystery of his identity is a meme.

    Web Original 
  • The animation studio that made the short Dream Come True: A Mule Mom's Story is completely unknown. No credits are included, and the only known crew member is sound designer Shawn Sussman, who uploaded the video to YouTube.