An Italian journalist who published the true identity of the “anonymous” author Elena Ferrante has said he did so because she is “a public figure”.
Claudio Gatti published a story in the New York Review of Books outing the author, who writes under a pseudonym, as Italian translator Anita Raja.
He said: “Millions of [Ferrante’s] books are bought by readers.
“In a way I think readers have the right to know something about the person who created the work.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: “I did it because she was a very much public figure.”
Ferrante’s debut novel Troubling Love was published in 1991, but her Neapolitan series of four books has become her biggest success.
Her books have been published in 39 countries and sold more than two million copies worldwide.
Earlier this year, the fourth novel in the Neapolitan series, The Story of the Lost Child, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.
Ferrante’s biography on the Prize’s website reads: “Elena Ferrante was born in Naples. This is all we know about her… [she] has stayed resolutely out of public view.”
Raja was originally employed as a translator by Europa, the publishing house that later published the Ferrante novels.
Gatti said he was able to identify her by the significant payments that had been made to her by the company, which appeared proportionate to the success of Ferrante’s books.
On Sunday evening, Sandro Ferri, Ferrante’s publisher and one of the few people who is known to know her identity, criticised Mr Gatti’s story.
In an interview with The Guardian, Mr Ferri did not deny Mr Gatti had correctly identified the author.
“We just think that this kind of journalism is disgusting,” he said. “Searching in the wallet of a writer who has just decided not to be public.”
Several high-profile authors have also spoken out against the decision to publish the author’s real name.
JoJo Moyes, the author of Me Before You, was one of the writers to criticise the journalist in a series of tweets.
“Maybe Elena Ferrante has very good reasons to write under a pseudonym. It’s not our ‘right’ to know her,” Moyes tweeted.