I got thinking about this strange name game that writers employ. Which famous writers are better known by their pen names? Why did they adopt a different name? I decided to do a search to see what fascinating things I could find out about famous writers – or rather, their famous pen names.
There are many more, but here is a list of what I found, with the pen name mentioned first:
Acton Bell was Anne Bronte
Anatole France was Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault
Andre Maurois was Emile Herzog
Angela Knight is Julie Woodcock
Anne Rice was born Howard Allen O’Brien
Ann Landers was Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer
Artemus Ward was Charles Farrar Browne
Boz was an early pen name for Charles Dickens
Clive Hamilton and N.W. Clerk were both pseudonyms C.S. Lewis used
Currer Bell was Charlotte Bronte
Dr. Seuss was Theodor Seuss Geisel
Elia was Charles Lamb
Ellery Queen was Frederic Dannav and Manfred B. Lee
Ellis Bell was Emily Bronte
Ernst Ahlgren was Victoria Benedictsson
Flann O’Brien and Myles na gCopaleen was Brian O’Nolan
GBS was George Bernard Shaw
George Eliot was Mary Ann Evans
George Sand was Amantine (also spelled Amandine) Lucile Aurore Dupin later to become Baroness Dudevant
George Orwell was actually Eric Blair
Isak Dinesen was Karen Blixen
Irwin Shaw was Irwin Gilbert Shamforoff
J. D. Robb is Nora Roberts who was born Eleanor Marie Robertson (Nora Roberts is really her first pen name)
John le Carre was David Cornwell
Joseph Conrad was born Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Lemony Snicket is Daniel Handler
Lewis Carroll was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Mark Twain was Samuel Langhorne Clemens and also Sieur Louis de Conte
Mary Westmachott was Agatha Christie
Maxim Gorkey was ALex Makimov Peshlov
Moliere was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
O. Henry was William Sydney Porter
Orion was J. K. Chesterton
Pearl Grey was Zane Grey
Poor Richard was Benjamin Franklin
Publius was a pen name for Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, when they were writing the Federalist Papers
Richard Bachman is Stephen King
Saki was H. H. Munro
Toni Morrison is Chloe Anthony Wofford
Voltanic was Francis Marie Arouet
You may not be familiar with all of the above-mentioned authors, but were any of them a surprise to you?
Why do authors use pseudonyms? Reasons I have found are varied.
- Some writers do not want people knowing that they write in a certain genre, examples being erotica or genres commonly written by men. In the latter case they often use their initials, as in the case of J. K. Rowling.
- Some prefer a name that better suits what they write. An example is Pearl Grey who used Zane Grey for his western writing.
- Some, an example being Stephen King, are advised by their publishers to use an alternate name so that when they have a few titles released around the same time the public will still buy them.
- Many women would use a man’s name because it used to be that women were not accepted as authors. Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot, is a good example of this.
- Some writers simply want a name that stands out better than their own. There are other reasons, too, but these are the most popular ones.
If you were to use a pen name, have you thought about what it would be?
For what reason would you use a name that is not your own?
If you do use a pen name has it been a positive experience for you?
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!