Persona-lly Appealing: Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard and Authorial Self-Representation

  • Patricia F. Tarantello (Marist College)


While scholarship on Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography describes his use of persona in nuanced terms, scholarship on Franklin’s earlier writings tends to characterize his use of persona as simply a device he used to eliminate personal details from his texts. This article, focused on Franklin’s Poor Richard persona, argues that he conceived of literary persona not simply as a tool to protect his anonymity, but also as a means of self-promotion and self-representation. Franklin used Poor Richard to make a space for himself in the literary marketplace, build a readership for the almanac, and create a positive public reputation for himself. Franklin’s early experiments in performing sincerity and authenticity through an invented personality prefigure the performances of identity he would deploy through his authorial persona in The Autobiography. Thus, by examining Franklin’s construction of identity in Poor Richard’s Almanack, we learn more about how he crafted a public identity for himself.

Keywords: Benjamin Franklin, authorship, Poor Richard, self-representation, Patricia Tarantello, anonymity, authorial identity, pseudonimity

How to Cite:

Tarantello, P., (2016) “Persona-lly Appealing: Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard and Authorial Self-Representation”, Authorship 5(1). doi:

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Published on
30 Jun 2016
Peer Reviewed