Authorship puzzles are hardly a new problem. The various fears, pressures, and literary conventions, which have induced authors, particularly in earlier centuries, to withhold their names from publications, have resulted in a series of problems of authorship attribution which have exercised scholars for generations.
KeywordsWord Length Sentence Length Discriminatory Variable Formal Statistical Test Literary Convention
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- 4.This is particularly evident in the difficulties experienced in one investigation dealing with dialogue in a novel by Sir Walter Scott. See S. M. Michaelson, A. Q. Morton and N. Hamilton-Smith, To Couple is the Custom, (University of Edinburgh, Dept, of Computer Science, 1977) p. 37.Google Scholar
- 5.E. Ellegard, Who was Junius,? (Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1962).Google Scholar
- 6.See F. Mosteller and D. L. Wallace, Inference and Disputed Authorship: The Federalist, (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1964) ch. 1.Google Scholar
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- 9.See D. Ricardo, Works and Correspondence, ed. P. Sraffa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1951–73) vol. III, pp. 427–34; vol. IV, pp. 99, 112n, 279, 415–16. In the case of Parish, in particular, the investigation, while exemplary, remains tantalisingly inconclusive. The witness was described as ‘a Continental Merchant’ and Cannan conjectured that this might be N. M. Rothschild. However, Sraffa found the style and content of the mysterious evidence different from evidence given by Rothschild in 1819 and 1832; and he also pointed out that since there was nothing compromising in the evidence given, the ‘very fact of the witness being in London at all must have been the cause of discretion — yet Rothschild’s residence in London was no secret’. Moreover, two Hansard, references indicated that the witness was abroad. Sraffa noted that the witness was asked particularly about Hamburg, while other (identified) merchants were asked about the currency of their particular country. Hamburg had been occupied by the French since 1806 and under the Berlin and Milan decrees a visit to England constituted a serious offence. Seven British firms continued in Hamburg under French occupation, and one of them, Thornton & Power, Parish & Co., is listed in the Bullion Report as transmitting subsidies, a matter referred to in the anonymous evidence. By linking all this with evidence in the Public Record Office and Hamburg archives, a strong circumstantial case is presented that Parish was the anonymous witness.Google Scholar
- 10.T. C. Mendenhall, ‘The Characteristic Curves of Composition’, Science, IX, no. 214 (11 March 1887) pp. 237–49, and ‘A Mechanical Solution of a Literary Problem’, Popular Science Monthly, 9 (1901) pp. 97–105. Mendenhall’s work is discussed in C. B. Williams, ‘A Note on an Early Statistical Study of Literary Style’, in E. S. Pearson and M. G. Kendall (eds), Studies in the History of Statistics and Probability, vol. I (London: Griffin, 1970) pp. 241–9. De Morgan’s initial idea is related in R. D. Lord, ‘De Morgan and the Statistical Study of Literary Style’, ibid., p. 251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- T. C. Mendenhall, ‘The Characteristic Curves of Composition’, Science, IX, no. 214 (11 March 1887) pp. 237–49, and ‘A Mechanical Solution of a Literary Problem’, Popular Science Monthly, 9 (1901) pp. 97–105. Mendenhall’s work is discussed in C. B. Williams, ‘A Note on an Early Statistical Study of Literary Style’, in E. S. Pearson and M. G. Kendall (eds), Studies in the History of Statistics and Probability, vol. I (London: Griffin, 1970) pp. 241–9. De Morgan’s initial idea is related in R. D. Lord, ‘De Morgan and the Statistical Study of Literary Style’, ibid., p. 251.Google Scholar
- 12.Williams refers to his early, unsuccessful, work in ‘A Note on the Statistical Analysis of Sentence-Length as a Criterion of Literary Style’, Biometrika, 31 (1940) pp. 356–61.Google Scholar
- 20.E. Ellegard, A Statistical Method for Determining Authorship: The Junius Letters 1769–1772, (Gothenburg: Elander, 1962).Google Scholar
- 22.G. Udney Yule, The Statistical Study of Literary Vocabulary, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944).Google Scholar
- 24.See note 6 above; and F. Mosteller and D. L. Wallace, ‘Inference in an Authorship Problem’, Journal of the American Statistical Association, 58 (1963) pp. 275–309.Google Scholar
- 27.S. M. Michaelson and A. Q. Morton, ‘Positional Stylometry’, in A. J. Aitken, R. W. Bailey and N. Hamilton-Smith (eds), The Computer and Literary Studies, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1973) pp. 69–83 at p. 70.Google Scholar
- 31.Sir Henry Parnell, Baron Congleton, A History of the Penal Laws against the Irish Catholics from the year 1689 to the Union, 4th edn (London: Longman, 1825).Google Scholar