Elena Ferrante: Biography

Elena Ferrante

Elena Ferrante is the pen-name of an Italian author born in Naples in 1943. Since she remains anonymous, not much is known about her early life and what influenced her to become a writer. In one of her rare interviews, she says when growing up she was an avid reader and began writing stories as a teenager. However, most of her heroes and writers were male which she took for granted until her transformational encounter with feminist thoughts and writings much later. This explains her intense focus on the lives of women in her books and she also feels that authors should write about what they know best and experience.

Despite her anonymity, Elena Ferrante has won great critical acclaim in Italy and abroad and, at the moment, she is considered to be the most important Italian writer of her time.

Her first book appeared in Italy in 1992 and since then, she has written five other novels and several short stories, all of which are available in English. Included among them is a series of four Neapolitan novels in which she explores, in-depth, the theme of female friendships. As with her other books, Elena Ferrante writes with excruciating frankness about what it means to be a woman at the different stages of life. Her writing is described as brilliant, compelling, addictive and intensely emotional in its exploration of the female psyche.

Her latest book, Lost Child, appeared as one of the New York Times best books for 2015 and in Italy, it was nominated for a major literary award. Earlier, one of her translated books, The Story of a New Name, was on the shortlist for the Best Translated Book Award. Two of her books have been made into movies and, even though she remains unknown, her literary status continues to grow as huge numbers of her books are available globally.

In the fall of 2016 a journalist has found the true identity of Elena Ferrante. By investigating the income of the publishers’ employees, the journalist ended up with only one person having a substantial increase in income at times matching the success of Ferrante’s novels. Most likely Ferrante’s real name is Anita Raja.