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Famous Authors and Their Pen Names

Renuka Savant Mar 12, 2019
Authors take on pseudonyms for various reasons. It could be a desire for privacy, or an impish way of knowing the actual reaction from the reading public. Be as it may, here is a list of some prominent writers and their pen names.
It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.
-J. K. Rowling on using her other pen name Robert Galbraith
It would seem natural for established authors to revel in the fortunes that their famous names yield. Usually, fans always wait with bated breath to lay hands upon the next literary masterpiece penned by their favorite authors.
Critics await such book releases with as much enthusiasm, wanting to rip it apart with their watchful analysis. And publishers remain optimistic about the bounty that these famous writers always seem to ensure. Now, would you really blame a writer if he wishes to escape this high octane drama, and write with free abandon?
Is it possible for a writer to separate himself from the expectation that his name carries? It is quite hard indeed, especially when it's all in the name. Highly resourceful as they are, several prominent writers, for varying reasons choose to go incognito and write under a pseudonym.

Famous Authors and Their Pseudonyms

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson as Lewis Carroll

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson may not ring an immediate bell as Lewis Carroll might, of course. But to Carroll's numerous fans across the globe, he remains a master of word play, clearly evident in his masterpiece, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Stanley Martin Lieber as Stan Lee

We have Stanley Martin Lieber to thank whenever we escape to enter the Marvel Universe and witness his greatest collaborated creations - Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and obviously Marvel's first family, Fantastic Four.

Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski as Joseph Conrad

As a Pole living in England, Joseph Conrad decided it was prudent to pursue his anglicized name to sideline any kind of confusion. As one of the best British authors, Conrad is remembered for his novels, An Outcast of the Islands, The Secret Agent, and Almayer's Folly.

Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto as Pablo Neruda

Poet and politician Pablo Neruda took his pen name from Czech poet, Jan Neruda. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Known for his surreal poetry, his collection of erotic poems, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair is well remembered.

François-Marie Arouet as Voltaire

Voltaire was a free thinker and a prolific writer. He penned down around 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets throughout his lifetime.
His nom de plume is actually an anagram of Arovet Li, the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of le jeune, meaning 'young'. He is also known to have used more than a hundred pen names to accredit his work.

Eric Arthur Blair as George Orwell

George Orwell, one of the most admirable British authors of the 20th century gave us the sharply allegorical novella, The Animal Farm. He zeroed in on his choice of name, George Orwell, as it was a "good round English name". This pen name also spawned the term Orwellian, used to describe a situation detrimental to the welfare of a free society.

Joanne Rowling as J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith

J. K. Rowling needs no introduction, but Robert Galbraith certainly does. The illustrious Ms. Rowling, in an effort to shield her new mystery novel from being (mis)judged, wrote The Cuckoo's Calling under the name of Robert Galbraith. She was asked to switch to the androgynous J. K. Rowling from Joanne Rowling in a bid to conceal her gender.

C. S. Lewis as Clive Hamilton and N. W. Clerk

We associate C. S. Lewis with The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy, both literature for children. He also wrote poems under the name of Clive Hamilton. But his most touching work remains A Grief Observed, which he wrote anonymously under the name of N. W. Clerk, and described his experience of bereavement following the death of his wife.

Dame Agatha Christie as Mary Westmacott

Think Agatha Christie, and all that comes to mind is crime, murders, and robberies so crafty, that it would take a certain Belgian detective to solve. We know her as the creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, but she also wrote six romance novels, all published in the name of Mary Westmacott.

Benjamin Franklin as Silence Dogood and Richard Saunders

As one of the Founding Fathers of America, Benjamin Franklin had a lot on his plate, despite which he dabbled as an author, scientist, musician, politician, and diplomat, among several other things. His first pen name was Silence Dogood, and he also wrote by the name of Richard Saunders.

Isaac Asimov as Paul French

The undisputed king of science fiction, Isaac Asimov wrote his best novels, including the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series under his actual name. His Lucky Starr series, directed at young fans of science fiction was written under the name of Paul French.

Stephen King as Richard Bachman

Everyone's favorite horror novels mostly carry one name - that of Stephen King. The speed at which King wrote was astounding - especially at a time when most authors averaged a book a year. King, therefore, decided that the only way to publish more material was to take a pen name, and that's how Richard Bachman came into being.

Recognize These Famous Authors?

★ Bestselling author of the sci-fi thriller genre, Michael Crichton used three pseudonyms - John Lange, Jeffery Hudson, and Michael Douglas.

★ Belgian cartoonist Georges Prosper Remi authored the much-loved comic, The Adventures of Tintin by the name of Hergé.
★ Acclaimed American writer Washington Irving also wrote in the name of Jonathan Oldstyle, Diedrich Knickerbocker, and Geoffrey Crayon.
★ The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Italian author Carlo Lorenzini, using the pen name Carlo Collodi.

★ Samuel Langhorne Clemens took several obscure pen names, but his most prominent pseudonym remains Mark Twain.
★ Dr. Seuss is a familiar name to those who've read The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. His actual name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, and was known to use other pen names like Theo LeSieg and Dr. Theophrastus Seuss.
★ Nora Roberts is a master of the romance genre. Her birth name is Eleanor Marie Robertson, and has used three other pen names - J. D. Robb, Jill March, and Sarah Hardesty. 

Little Women writer Louisa May Alcott wrote quite a few novels like A Long Fatal Love Chase and Pauline's Passion and Punishment by the name of A. M. Barnard.
★ Sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë chose pen names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell respectively in order to protect their privacy, and to refrain their work from being viewed as 'feminine'.

Breakfast at Tiffany's writer, Truman Capote's actual name is Truman Streckfus Persons.
★ Mary Anne Evans (also Mary Ann Evans), known to many as George Eliot took on the masculine pseudonym to protect her work from being classified as stereotypically feminine.

★ William Shakespeare once alluded to the insignificance of a name, especially in terms of the other important attributes the object may hold.
To writers, a pseudonym comes with freedom, and brings along a gay sense of obscurity. So, the next time a writer is asked, "what's in a name?", the answer would definitely be, "lots".