Authorship Counts

Who is the world’s earliest writer known by name? 

I asked this question to a group of very intelligent professionals a few years ago and most suggested either Homer (the name given to the poet or poets who constructed the Iliad and Odyssey) or Moses (tradition states he wrote the first five books of the Jewish Bible). These were both good guesses. My question was a tough one!

The answer would only be known to someone with a keen interest within antiquity or archeology: Enheduanna.

The first known author in history was a woman from 2250 BCE. Enheduanna was the high priestess of the moon god in the city of Ur and she authored of several Sumerian hymns. This was during a time when the skill of writing was highly restricted to a few people on the entire planet. She composed her poetry on clay tablets AND she signed her name. One tablet even records her as the “daughter of Sargon of Akkad,” giving her relationship to the King.

The name Enheduanna would have been lost completely to history if she had simply written anonymously.
Bottom Line: When you write something, I highly suggest you sign it. And not just the great American novel. This applies to short essays, emails, blogs, love letters, and business memos. Authorship counts! Of course, there are more pragmatic reasons for signing your works beyond providing research fodder for scholars in the distant future that may discover your computer files one day.

  1. It will help establish priority and preserve your copyright. This is important in some cases.
  2. The other main reason is this act alone will begin to enhance your writing.

When you get in the habit of signing your work, you will notice that the prose is more carefully constructed: arguments are tighter, the logic is better, and the diction improves. Signed documents directly represent your essence as they have been imparted with your mark. As a result, the quality will improve for 99.9% of people that apply this technique.