It may be true, as Ben Franklin observed in his first Silence Dogood letter,

that the Generality of People, now a days, are unwilling either to commend or dispraise what they read, until they are in some measure informed who or what the Author of it is, whether he be poor or rich, old or young, a Schollar or a Leather Apron Man, &c. and give their Opinion of the Performance, according to the Knowledge which they have of the Author’s Circumstances,

but so what?  Young Mr. Franklin did say these things, and then went on to describe himself as a poor country woman, married for seven years to a Minister, mother of three children (two girls and a boy), recently widowed, and only now an occasional letter-writer.  Ben Franklin was none of these things, but a writer.

Even Joseph Addison, co-author of the famous Spectator papers, observed

that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author.

He then went on to describe himself being a person who never was.  But the audience knew it was fiction; they only allowed it because it was part of the artistry.

Writers wear masks, and wear whichever mask best helps their writing.  Franklin and Addison each wore masks.  Thomas Paine wore a mask when he published essays as The Forester, and Common Sense.

Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the Doctrine itself, not the Man.  Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay all wore the single mask of Publius when they published the Federalist papers—back when Roman pseudonyms were in vogue, and articles appeared from Tully (Hamilton), Helvidius (Madison), as well as Cato, Caesar, Marcus, Brutus, and even Americanus.

Adapting, then, a bit from Edgar Allan Poe: Let me call myself, for the present, the PoliTick.  The fair page now lying before me need not be sullied with my real appellation.


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