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Ghost Writers in the Sky

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According to Wikipedia:

Two of John F. Kennedy’s books were almost entirely ghostwritten. Former President Ronald Reagan also released a ghostwritten autobiography….

[T]he purported author of the Nancy Drew mystery series, “Carolyn Keene”, is actually a pseudonym for a series of ghostwriters who write books in the same style using a template of basic information about the book’s characters and their fictional universe (names, dates, speech patterns), and about the tone and style that are expected in the book….

The estate of romance novelist V. C. Andrews hired a ghostwriter to continue writing novels after her death, under her name and in a similar style to her original works. Many of action writer Tom Clancy’s books from the 2000s bear the names of two people on their covers, with Clancy’s name in larger print and the other author’s name in smaller print. Various books bearing Clancy’s name were written by different authors under the same pseudonym. The first two books in the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell franchise were written by Raymond Benson under the pseudonym David Michaels.

Ghost Writer 4Sometimes famous authors will ghostwrite for other celebrities as well, such as when H.P. Lovecraft ghostwrote science fiction stories for Harry Houdini in science fiction magazines in the 1920s….

A number of papal encyclicals have been written by ghostwriters. Pascendi, for instance, was written by Joseph Lemius (1860-1923), the procurator in Rome of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In June 1938, Pius XI summoned American Jesuit John La Farge, who began to prepare a draft of Humani Generis Unitas, which LaFarge and two other Jesuits—Gustav Gundlach and Gustave Desbuquois—on in Paris; the draft was approximately 100 pages long. Another Jesuit translated the draft encyclical into Latin, presenting it to Vladimir Ledochowski, then the General of the Society of Jesus who had chosen Gundlach and Desbuquois for the project. The draft encyclical was delivered to the Vatican in September 1938.

Ghost Writer 5Sebastian Tromp, a Dutch Jesuit, a solid Thomist theologian and close to Pope Pius XII, is considered to be the main ghost writer of Mystici Corporis. As advisor to Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani during Vatican II, he is, according to existing tape recordings and diaries, also the father of “subsistit”, which to his understanding of Latin, did not mean anything new but indicates completeness….

Wolfgang Mozart is an example of a well-known composer who was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthy patrons. More recently, composers such as the UK-based Patric Standford (born in 1939) have ghostwritten for symphonic recordings and films such as the Rod McKuen Cello Concerto. In the film industry, a music ghostwriter is a “person who composes music for another composer but is not credited on the cue sheet or in the final product in any way.” The practice is considered one of the “dirty little secrets of the film and television music business” that is considered unethical, but has been common since the early stages of the film industry. In the early years of film, David Raksin worked as music ghostwriter and orchestrator for Charlie Chaplin; even though Chaplin was credited as the score writer, he was considered to be a “hummer” (pejorative film industry slang for a person who purports to be a film score composer but who in fact only gives a general idea of the melodies to a ghostwriter). John Barry claims to be not only the orchestrator, but also the original composer of the James Bond Theme, which is credited to Monty Norman, possibly due to a ghostwriting assignment or a “work-made-for-hire” contract….

Ghost Writer 6In hip-hop music, the increasing use of ghostwriters by high-profile hip-hop stars has led to controversy, because “Rapping is about you expressing yourself through your own words, not someone else’s.” Eye Weekly reported that MC Rhymefest did ghostwriting for Kanye West and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Texan rapper The D.O.C. did ghostwriting for Dr. Dre, and Jadakiss did ghostwriting for Puffy, who later bragged “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks.”

Other famous ghost writers include:

Larry McMurtry, Sinclair Lewis, Robert Graves, Walter B. Gibson, Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Vance, Katherine Anne Porter, James Ramsey Ullman, and Leo Guild.
So in honor of Halloween, who are some other ghost writers and the books they’ve haunted?
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About John Madera

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.
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