Jul 11, 2014

Benjamin Franklin Pseudonyms

Franklin was prolific, regardless of which name he used.

Richard Saunders - He used this name for his Poor Richard’s Almanac, which ran annually from 1732 to 1758. The Richard character brought humor to what was otherwise a serious resource in the almanac. During the years of publication the unnecessary character gradually disappeared.

Silence Dogood - When Benjamin was 16-years-old, he wanted to write for his brother James’ newspaper, The New England Courant, but James would not allow it. Ben contributed to the paper as a middle-aged widow named Silence Dogood whose witty and satirical letters covered a range of topics from courtship to education. Fifteen Dogood letters were published, resulting in the amusement of Courant readers and several marriage proposals for the pretend widow, Mrs. Dogood.

Anthony Afterwit - Mr. Afterwit, a gentleman, wrote humorous letters about married life that appeared in Franklin’s own Pennsylvania Gazette.

Polly Baker - Polly Baker was a pseudonym Franklin used to examine colonial society’s unequal treatment of women. She was pretend punished by society for having children out of wedlock while the fathers of the children went unpunished.

Alice Addertongue - Alice is another middle-aged widow who wrote a gossip column for Franklin’s Gazette in the form of scandalous stories about prominent members of society.

Caelia Shortface and Martha Careful - These pseudonyms were used by Franklin to settle a personal dispute. They wrote letters mocking Franklin’s former employer, Samuel Keimer, who had stolen some of Franklin’s publishing ideas. Shortface and Careful’s letters were published in The American Weekly Mercury, a publication by a Keimer rival.

Busy Body - Also published in The American Weekly Mercury, Miss Body’s letters were gossip stories about local businessmen.

Benevolous. Benevolous - He wrote letters to British newspapers while Franklin was in London. The primary focus of the letters was to correct negative statements made about Americans in the British press.