Anonymity & Publication

Victorian pornography was published underground in the shadow of official print culture. Working around Britain’s Obscene Publications Act and France’s laws against ‘outrages aux bonnes moeurs,’ authors, publishers, and printers developed underground strategies for publication. Anonymity was one of their principal strategies, resulting in a variety of pseudonyms, false imprints, and secret bibliographic codes. If the intent behind anonymity was to hide identities and illegal print, its effect has been the opposite, propelling a cultural process of attaching the names of famous writers, wealthy industrialists, and privileged women to the most notorious works of Victorian pornography. We explore the types of anonymity that circulated in the period, and the cultural speculation that has since grown around the practice. While reflecting critically on this compulsion to reveal, we also appreciate the historical value of knowing the secret makers and brokers behind Victorian pornography and in understanding the social conditions behind its production. We share some of our methods for uncovering these secret agents, as well as our very latest discoveries.


Pseudonyms Then and Now

How were pornographic books authored and published? False names and imprints were the standard, but has that changed today? This artifact tries to answer that question.

Anonymity Gone Wilde: Pinterest Curation of *Teleny* Front Covers

The novel *Teleny* is remembered for its dubious and complicated authorship debate as it is for its memorable characters and story. The question is why is authorship so significant? This Pinterst board explores the various covers of *Teleny* in order to examine why authorship is so important to readers and publishers alike.
-E. L. Huxley

The Biblio-Detective: Tracking Down Underground Authors and Publishers

In the Victorian era, the publishing of clandestine works was mostly underground. What process did these publishers go through to remain anonymous, and how do we figure out who wrote what? This artifact explores the methods used today to determine the author(s) of these works.

Charles Carrington, or The Satyr of 13 rue Faubourg Montmartre

We have no photograph of the eccentric Paris-based English publisher Charles Carrington, just a picture of a laughing satyr from one of his title pages that might function as a proxy. But what can we learn about the man and his business from the many aliases he went by? This artifact tells the story of this publisher through his many name changes, developing our understanding of the social circumstances that drove men like Carrington towards a career in illicit print and a life on the cultural periphery.
-Colette Colligan