The Formula is the Foundation
Blawg Review # 94

Those Who Came Before Me

Anonymous blogging is a fascinating obsession. It gives a voice to those who may only have ideas instead of credentials; and it protects those with credentials when sharing their ideas. That is what anonymous blogging is, its about writing what you feel, think, or believe without any danger of repercussion or accountability for those ideas.

The problem of putting your name to ideas that may carry unwanted repercussions, is not a new one arising before the writers of the world:

Denis Diderot (1713-1784), the publisher of the first Encyclopedia of the world, one of the great minds of the Enlightenment, was forced to work through the publishing of his 35 volume work in secrecy, in order to spread the ideals he shared with the other French Philosophes.

Voltaire (1694-1778)
, another Philosophe spreading the ideas of liberty and personal freedom in a France that was dangerous for both. He was one of the greatest philosophers the world has ever seen, and published Poem of the League (1723) anonymously from Geneva.

Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), one of the most famous American writers. Poe invigorated the mystery and horror genre for the world, and published his first book, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), anonymously.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
, subscriber to the Enlightenment in Europe, writer of the American Declaration of Independence, President of the United States. Jefferson anonymously published a Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774) as instructions for the Virginia delegates to the First Continental Congress.

We anonymous writers do so to say what needs to be said at times when the ideas that we spread may not find safe harbor from our neighbors, friends and colleagues. Writers who choose to do so anonymously, realize their duty, but acquiesce to their responsibilities. We compromise by saying what needs to be said, while separating that idea and the author so as to protect our public livelihood and name.

This is why I stand in a long line of proud and accomplished anonymous authors. To say what needed to be said at a time when my doing so carried consequences I did not want to deal with.



Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832), Scottish novelist and poet, whose work as a translator, editor, biographer, and critic, together with his novels and poems, made him one of the most prominent figures in English romanticism. He was born in Edinburgh, Aug. 15, 1771. Trained as a lawyer, he became a legal official, an occupation that allowed him to write, often anonymously.


Jonathan Swift (1667–1745), Anglo-Irish satirist and political pamphleteer, considered one of the greatest masters of English prose and one of the most impassioned satirists of human folly and pretension. In 1713, Swift was appointed dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. The following year the Tory administration fell, and Swift’s political power was ended. In 1724–25 he issued, anonymously, his Drapier’s Letters, a series of highly effective pamphlets that secured the abrogation of the royal patent granted to an Englishman coining copper halfpence in Ireland. For his championship of their cause in these essays and in A Modest Proposal (1729), Swift became a hero of the Irish people. The latter work embodies the mordantly ironic suggestion that the children of the Irish poor be sold as food to the wealthy, thus turning an economic burden to general profit.


William Lloyd Garrison (1805–79), American abolitionist, who founded the influential antislavery newspaper Liberator. Garrison was born Dec. 10, 1805, in Newburyport, Mass. Indentured at the age of 14 to the owner of the Newburyport Herald, he became an expert printer. The struggles of oppressed peoples for freedom engaged his sympathies in his youth. In articles written anonymously or under the pseudonym Aristides, in the Herald and other newspapers, he attempted to arouse Northerners from their apathy on the question of slavery in the U.S.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), American essayist and poet, who was the first distinctively American author to influence European thought. His most detailed statement of belief was reserved for his first published book, Nature (1836), which appeared anonymously, but was soon correctly attributed to him. The volume received little notice, but it has come to be regarded as Emerson's most original and significant work, offering the essence of his philosophy of transcendentalism. This idealist doctrine opposed the popular materialist and Calvinist views of life and voiced a plea for freedom of the individual from artificial restraints.


Well done Ed! We are in good company :-)

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