Elena Ferrante is the pseudonym of the unknown Italian author of My Brilliant Friend. Very little is known about the writer, as she has purposefully kept her identity and personal history secret. In 1991, when Ferrante published her first novel, Troubling Love, she stipulated to her publisher that she would not give interviews, readings, or any other form of publicity. She would not provide any information about herself, including her real name, as she felt that "books, once they are written, have no need of their authors" (quoted in Wood.)
Despite, or perhaps because of, this mystery, Ferrante has become one of the best-known and most celebrated contemporary authors. She has published seven novels: three of these (Troubling Love, The Days of Abandonment, and The Lost Daughter) are stand alone titles, while the other four (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave And Those Who Stay (2014), and The Story of the Lost Child (2015)) form an on-going series, tracing the lives of the same characters over a long period of time. All of her novels were written in Italian, but have been translated into numerous other languages. In 2016, The Story of the Lost Child was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Ferrante was also named one of Time Magazine's most influential people the same year.
Ferrante has occasionally provided written answers to the questions of journalists, and a collection of her letters has also been published. From a few biographical hints it has generally been surmised that Ferrante is a woman, has children, and has lived in Naples. For some, her desire to remain anonymous has been viewed as inappropriate, with arguments raised that her fans are entitled to know about the author whose sales they support. A number of attempts have been made to uncover Ferrante's identity. In 2016, investigative journalist Claudio Gatti published an article claiming to have identified Ferrante, based on investigation into real estate records in Italy. This expose triggered public debates about privacy, anonymity, and authorship in an increasingly public age, with many notable literary figures supporting Ferrante's right to keep her identity secret.