Friday, January 9, 2015
Posted by Schwets
Our favorite authors aren't who they seem … or maybe they are?
Pseudonyms, pen names, or nom de plume are pretty interesting. Why do writers choose to do it? Millions of different reasons: make a name more marketable or memorable, hiding one’s gender, distancing oneself from the work.
Anyhoo … Here are some writers who also wrote under a pseudonym:
The Brontë sisters all had one: Anne Brontë wrote as Acton Bell, Charlotte Brontë preferred the name Currer Bell, Emily Brontë kept with the theme and chose to be Ellis Bell. I’m glad their sibling devotion stretched into their pen names.
Benjamin Franklin used a bunch of pen names: Alice Addertongue, Anthony Afterwit, Benevolus, Busy Body, Caelia Shortface, Martha Careful, Polly Baker, Richard Saunders (of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame), Silence Dogood (we’ve all seen National Treasure).
Everyone’s favorite Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov also published as Antosha Chekhonte.
L. Frank Baum (itself a pen name. The "L" stands for Lyman) wrote a series of novels for gals called “Aunt Jane’s Nieces” as Edith Van Dyne to cash in on the Anne of Green Gables craze.
Sylvia Plath published The Bell Jar under her pseudonym Victoria Lucas to protect people she knew and loved.
J.K. Rowling (again, a pen name. She's really Joanne Kathleen) often writes follow-up Harry Potter-related stories under various pseudonym, however, she adopted Robert Galbraith to publish her Cormoran Strike series, presumably after her first post-Harry novel was poorly received. Also famously, it was leaked that Galbraith was Rowling shortly after the first Strike novel was published (to boost sales??)
The Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie used the nom de plume Mary Westmacott. The name gave her the freedom to explore different genre of writing without letting her mystery fans down.
This goes the other way 'round, too. Sometimes we know the pen name better than we know the given name:
Ayn Rand was born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum
Woody Allen is Allen Stewart Konigsberg
George Sand was the pen name of Amandine Lucie Aurore Dupin
George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans
Theodor Seuss Geisel better known as Dr. Seuss
Franklin W. Dixon was a name used by a bunch of authors to write the Hardy Boys series, but the first person to use the name was Leslie McFarlane
Mary Poppins' creator, P. L. Travers was the chosen stage name of Helen Goff
He was born Eric Arthur Blair, but we know him better as George Orwell
And, last but certainly not least, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain
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