“Anonymity and pseudonymity have a long history. We think of medieval authors laboring anonymously, but even the first age of literary celebrities, the 18th century, was also paradoxically an age of anonymity. Book historian James Raven estimates that “over 80% of all novels published in Britain between 1750 and 1790 were published anonymously.”
Among the Romantics, Sir Walter Scott as novelist was called the Great Unknown in reviews. In fact, assigning a range of his copyrights to Archibald Constable in 1820, Scott insisted on a clause stipulating that if his publisher divulged his name as the author of the Waverley novels, he would pay Scott £2,000.
Scott said: “Many things would please people well enough anonymously, which, if they bore me on the title-page, would just give me that sort of ill-name which precedes hanging, and that would be in many respects inconvenient if I thought of again trying a grande opus.” When he officially revealed himself in 1827 he called anonymity “the humour or caprice of the time.”