Richard Saunders Orgins

Poor Richard pic

From 1732 to 17 58 Benjamin Franklin published the Poor Richards Almanack due to overwhelming success of other that were published in England at the time. Franklin was known for publishing under various pseudonyms such as “Silence DoGood” who we previously read about and “Richard Saunders” or “Poor Richard” was another. After learning about the origins of the pseudonym “Silence DoGood”, I became quite curious about how Benjamin Franklin came up with the pen name Richard Saunders. After further research I discovered that Franklin borrowed the name “Richard Saunders” from the seventeenth-century author of Rider’s British Merlin by Cardanus Rider which the letters rearranged is Richard Saunders. The Rider’s British Merlin was a popular British almanac which continued to be published throughout the eighteenth century. So Franklin is essential profiting off another man’s name indirectly. I found this quite funny due to the fact in the reading from class “Poor Richard Improved” Franklin gave the paranoid impression of everyone needing to look over their shoulder so another man wouldn’t steal from them. Franklin heeds this warning but as he does so is steals a man’s name and profits off it. Although it is Franklin’s own work I did find the situation very strange. The name may have come from Rider’s British Merlin however it is believed the persona and writing style was modeled after Jonathan Swift’s pseudonymous character, “Isaac Bickerstaff” by using Philomath and astrologer  to predict things specifically the deaths of actual astrologers who wrote traditional almanacs. So Franklin picked parts of past almanac writers to formulate the and almanac to be above all others by combining all the best part from almanacs of the past.


One thought on “Richard Saunders Orgins”

  1. Thrilling post, truly eye opening; I like your visual it really improves the quality of the post. Your dedication to uncovering the origin of Franklin’s pseudonym is greatly appreciated, affording an unparalleled glimpse into Franklin’s world. I appreciate that you took the time not only to research the topic, but also followed it up with “further research”, truly inspirational historical research. Your connection of Franklin profiting off of another man’s name to Franklin’s Poor Richard Improved was a very ironic piece of historical humor. Whether Franklin was acknowledging his own actions or accidentally describing a similar situation we do not know, but in either case it is dripping with irony. I also found the idea of Franklin creating a perfect almanac writer pseudonym and character out of two other prominent almanacs of the time quite intriguing, as Franklin would have been planning to make one of the first great American almanacs. Overall great enlightening post, I found out a lot I did not know, my only comment is that there were not enough sources.

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