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August 25, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:13am

Independent, MSN and Yahoo duped into announcing death of Elena Ferrante

By Dominic Ponsford

The Independent appears to have been duped into reporting that pseudonymous writer Elena Ferrante has died.

Ferrante is the name used by the Italian author of various novels including My Brilliant Friend.

The Independent article announcing Ferrante’s death was apparently written by the overnight team at around 1.30am and has since been taken down. At time of writing a syndicated version of The Independent piece was still appearing on Yahoo News and MSN.

The Independent article annnouncing Ferrante’s death has been replaced with a dead link.

According to the Brazilian website Folha De S.Paulo, the fake news of the novelist’s death was circulating on Twitter last night after it was announced on a hoax account imitating Editorial Lumen, a publishing house which distributes the author’s work in Spanish.

An hour after the prank, the fake account reportedly changed its profile to read: “This account is a hoax created by Italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti.”

Debeneditti has previously used fake tweets to kill a pope, Fidel Castro and Pedro Almodovar.

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In an interview with The Guardian in 2012, Debeneditti said his fake Tweets were driven by his desire to expose “how weak the media was in Italy.”

Publisher Europa Editions UK said on Twitter: “In light of the recent wave of fake news about Elena Ferrante, we’d like to remind readers and press to verify facts with us.”

Who is Elena Ferrante?

Elena Ferrante’s real identity remains a closely guarded secret.

But the novelist does give occasional interviews.

The LA Times spoke to the writer in 2018 and wrote this: “Elena Ferrante is a woman without a face, whose identity is known only to her Italian publisher, E/O.

“Her name is a pseudonym, its sound a discreet homage to the great Italian novelist Elsa Morante, author of ‘Arturo’s Island’ — whose work, Ferrante says here, she has always appreciated.

“No one has ever succeeded in revealing Ferrante’s true identity, although certain names have circulated in the press: Domenico Starnone, a Neapolitan screenwriter and novelist, and winner of the Strega Prize in 2001; or Anita Raja, a Roman translator.

“Nearly two years ago, Italian journalist Claudio Gatti published a scoop, identifying Raja as Ferrante, after having scoured her tax returns and deciding that her assets exceeded that of the average income of a person in her profession. Against all odds, the supposed revelation of the identity of Ferrante provoked a worldwide scandal.

“For her readers, Ferrante must be allowed to remain anonymous, should she wish to be. An international outcry rose up, from enraged readers who sought to protect the writer they love, and whose anonymity they wish to preserve. Nothing of the like had ever been seen before.”

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