Answered By: Library West
Last Updated: Oct 29, 2014     Views: 24

People have "dealt with" anonymous texts in as many ways as you might imagine over the centuries. I don't know about in classical cultures, but my colleague Blake Landor could help you with that. In the English Renaissance almost everything was anonymous -- Shakespeare's plays, for instance -- or pseudonymous except for published works above the level of a pamphlet. Also in this time, much of what we call literature today actually was not published, but rather circulated privately in handwritten collections, many if not most of them anonymous.
At a guess, I would venture that it's not until the romantic period, with its emphasis on the individual, that this condition began to bother anyone (except for political publications, wherein anonymity has always been taken as a threat by those in authority). One very well known example involves Victorian magazine articles, which were almost always published anonymously but whose editors of course kept files on who was who, files that have painstakingly been gone through by the people at the Wellesley Index (which we have in Reference: Z2005 H6; the editors might have some interesting remarks on your question).
I've sent you the records for three books on your topic. There are also some subject headings you might try, such as Anonyms and Pseudonyms, English -- History and Authorship -- Social Aspects -- History.
The two main scholarly databases for history are America: History and Life and (for the rest of the globe) Historical Abstracts. I've sent you the most promising-looking articles from each, using the same subject search I used in our book catalog (anonymous writings). Other databases of interest might include the Modern Language Association Index (or MLA), which would cover literary research into anonymity, and Google Scholar (approach this through the Databases link on our home page to get most of the articles in full text).
Let me know if you'd still like to work together Wednesday. Good times would be from 2-4 and 5-7, when I'm on the reference desk on the 3rd floor of Library West.
John Van Hook

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