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By Any Another Name: Writers and their Pseudonyms

Many famous writers used pseudonyms either at the beginning of their career or sometime after they were established to write a different genre or explore a new style.

A pseudonym (also known as a “pen name” or nom de plume) can be utilized by a writer to provide a new life story, an artistic reboot, an experiment for a new book form, or it can permit an author to reach a new audience.

Many famous writers used pseudonyms either at the beginning of their career or sometime after they were established to write a different genre or explore a new style. Some famous pseudonyms include:

  • Stephen King — Richard Bachman
  • Anne Rice — Anne Rampling
  • Charlotte Bronte — Currer Bell
  • Sylvia Plath — Victoria Lucas
  • Eric Arthur Blair — George Orwell
  • François-Marie Arouet — Voltaire
  • Charles Lutwidge Dodgson — Lewis Carroll
  • William Sydney Porter — O. Henry
  • Samuel Langhorne Clemens –Mark Twain
  • Theodore Seuss Geisel — Dr. Seuss
  • Mary Ann Evans — George Eliot
  • David John Moore Cornwell — John Le Carré
  • We found some great collectible copies of authors’ works published under their pseudonyms. This would make a fun collection and a great conversation starter!

16 Comments

  • Might be worth noting the pseudonyms of Dean Koontz, which include Aaron Wolfe, Brian Coffey, David Axton, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, K.R. Dwyer, Leigh Nichols, Anthony North, Owen West, and Richard Paige. Many of the novels he originally published under those names have been revised and reissued under his own byline.

    I have to wonder, given that Koontz is so prolific….who is he now?

  • Very interesting but not very lengthy. I work in fishing and hunting books, and have a collection of hundreds of pseudonyms in that genre. Some pen-names go back to the 1700s.

  • South African writer Olive Schreiner comes to mind: writing during a time when women had a hard time being taken seriously as authors, she initially went by the masculine non de plume Ralph Iron when she published her most famous work, “The Story of an African Farm,” in 1883.

  • Does not using your family name make your real first and middle names a pen name.
    Consider Nevil Shute.

  • impressive listing, of note, many of the Pulp writers do so under pseudonyms…Lionel Derrick,Don Pendleton with his Executioner series–was taken over by House writers as were many of the series from the late 60’s foreward…

  • For a much more comprehensive listing, just do a search for “author pseudonyms” and several sites will come up devoted to that one subject amd listing hundreds of authors.

  • There was once a writer named “Roselli,” or “Roncelli,” or something Italian sounding like that (maybe one of you folk out there know his real name), who wrote under the pen name of “Ed McBain.” Then word got out that Ed McBain was really Evan Hunter. Actually, that’s also true, and he got the name “Hunter” from having attended Hunter College somewhere in NYC. I think many of us still miss him.

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