Ghost writing is not a recent phenomenon. A notable example may be Shakespeare. Although no one is sure exactly who wrote the plays published under the name of ‘William Shakespeare’, it has been suggested that Sir Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere, and Christopher Marlowe were worthy candidates for the ghostwriting position.
A ghostwriter is a professional writer, hired to effectively communicate the ideas of the ‘named’ author, if this is not something they can do themselves. Alternatively, a team of ghostwriters can work on one story to ensure the work is complete in a shorter time frame. However, they are often not given credit for their work, as someone else’s name is placed on top of something they have worked hard on.
It is not just books which are ghost written, but also pieces of journalism and many speeches given by politicians. Many political speeches since George Washington have are known to have been written by someone other than the person giving the speech. Barack Obama’s first notable ghost writing partnership was with Jonathan Favreau, who the former president said was like his “mind reader”.
Taupin has written most of John’s songs throughout his career, including ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Rocket Man’.
Elton John has worked with Bernie Taupin on his music for years, as the two have an open working relationship. Taupin has written most of John’s songs throughout his career, including ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Candle in the Wind’ and ‘Rocket Man’.
Some may argue that the practice of ghost writing is unethical. After all, it means taking someone else’s work and putting your own name on it. But can we really argue that such a practice is unethical when it has been working under the surface for centuries? Two people engage in a contractual agreement to work in such a way, and if they agree to have someone else’s name on their work, how unethical really is it? The ghostwriter is performing a service, just as a tailor would when altering your suit.
Returning to the literary world, author V.C. Andrews was well known for her young adult fiction with family themes. Before passing away at 63 from breast cancer, she hired Andrew Neiderman to continue the series under her name, allowing her work to continue being published posthumously under a ghostwriter.
It is important to note, however, that not all celebrities use a ghostwriter.
It comes as no surprise that many celebrities choose to use ghost writers for their work, whether it is fiction or autobiographical. They have a story to tell and a name to sell it. The professional writing of a ghostwriter will ensure the celebrity’s ideas are well-written and that the novel receives a good reception. If you look at a lot of celebrity autobiographies – take those of Robbie Williams, Katie Price and Victoria Beckham for example – you will see that they have been either completely written by or had help from a ghostwriter. It is important to note, however, that not all celebrities use a ghostwriter.
Celebrity ghostwriter Pauleanna Reid said that something she likes most about her job is the variety. She said: “The thing is, not everyone is a writer. There are people who are obviously extremely smart, but struggle to translate their thoughts onto paper. That’s where working with a ghost writer can help, to develop a person’s voice and help communicate it clearly.”
Celebrity fans seem to react negatively towards the news that their favourite celebrity hired a ghostwriter to write their novel or autobiography. However, the celebrity isn’t a professional writer, so can they really expect them to write it themselves?