From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaA pen name, nom de plume, or literary double, is a pseudonym adopted by an author. The author's real name may be known to only the publisher, or may come to be common knowledge.
Western literatureAn author may use a pen name if his or her real name is likely to be confused with that of another author or notable individual. Some authors who regularly write in more than one genre use different pen names for each. Romance writer Nora Roberts writes erotic thrillers under the pen name J.D. Robb, and Samuel Langhorne Clemens used the aliases "Mark Twain" and "Sieur Louis de Conte" for different works. Similarly, an author who writes both fiction and non-fiction (such as the mathematician and fantasy writer Charles Dodgson, who wrote as Lewis Carroll) may use a pseudonym for fiction writing. Science fiction author Harry Turtledove has used the name H.N. Turtletaub for a number of historical novels he has written because he and his publisher felt that the presumed lower sales of those novels might hurt book store orders for the novels he writes under his own name.
Occasionally a pen name is employed to avoid overexposure. Prolific authors for pulp magazines often had two and sometimes three short stories appearing in one issue of a magazine; the editor would create several fictitious author names to hide this from readers. Robert A. Heinlein wrote stories under pseudonyms so that more of his works could be published in a single magazine. Stephen King published four novels under the name Richard Bachman because publishers didn't feel the public would buy more than one novel per year from a single author. Eventually, after critics found a large number of style similarities, publishers revealed Bachman's true identity.
Sometimes a pen name is used because an author believes that his name does not suit the genre he is writing in. Western novelist Pearl Gray dropped his first name and changed the spelling of his last name to become Zane Grey, because he believed that his real name did not suit the Western genre. Romance novelist Angela Knight writes under that name instead of her actual name (Julie Woodcock) because of the double entendre of her surname in the context of that genre.
Edward Gorey had dozens of pseudonyms, each one an anagram of his real name.
A pen name may be shared by different writers in order to suggest continuity of authorship. Thus the Bessie Bunter series of English boarding-school stories, initially written by the prolific Charles Hamilton under the name Hilda Richards, was taken on by other authors who continued to use the same pen-name.
C. S. Lewis used two different pseudonyms for different reasons. He published a collection of poems (Spirits in Bondage) and a narrative poem (Dymer) under the pen name "Clive Hamilton", to avoid harming his reputation as a don at Oxford University. His book entitled A Grief Observed, which describes his experience of bereavement, was originally released under the pseudonym "N. W. Clerk"
Essayist and poet Eric Blair adopted the pseudonym George Orwell for most of his books, including Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four. This was done because he felt himself to be insufficiently established in his writing career to publish under his real name.
In some forms of fiction, the pen name adopted is the name of the lead character, to suggest to the reader that the book is a (fictional) autobiography. Daniel Handler used the pseudonym Lemony Snicket to present his A Series of Unfortunate Events books as memoirs by an acquaintance of the main characters.
Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee was born Stanley Martin Lieber. He adopted the pen name Stan Lee because he intended to save his real name for more literary products other than comic books. However, Lee's hopes for a novelistic career never materialized; although he became arguably the most important comic book creator in history. He legally changed his name to Stan Lee because he had become better known under his pen name.
Some, however, do this to fit a certain theme. One famous example, Pseudonymous Bosch, used his pen name just to expand the theme of secrecy in The Secret Series.
Some female authors have used pen names to ensure that their works were accepted by publishers and/or the public. Such is the case of Peru's famous Clarinda, whose work was published in the early 17th century. More often, women have adopted masculine pen names. This was common in the 19th century, when women were beginning to make inroads into literature but, it was felt, would not be taken as seriously by readers as male authors. For example, Mary Ann Evans wrote under the pen name George Eliot; and Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, Baronne Dudevant, used the pseudonym George Sand. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë published under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell respectively. French-Savoyard writer and poet Amélie Gex chose to publish as Dian de Jeânna ("John, son of Jane") during the first half of her career. Karen Blixen's very successful Out of Africa (1937) was originally published under the pen name Isak Dinesen. Victoria Benedictsson, one of the most famous Swedish authors of the 19th century, wrote under the name Ernst Ahlgren.
More recently, women who write in genres normally written by men sometimes choose to use initials, such as K. A. Applegate, P. N. Elrod, D. C. Fontana, S. E. Hinton, G. A. Riplinger, J. D. Robb, and J. K. Rowling. Alternatively, they may use a unisex pen name, such as Robin Hobb (the second pen name of novelist Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden).
Collective namesA collective name, also known as a house name, is sometimes used with series fiction published under one pen name even though more than one author may have contributed to the series. In some cases the first books in the series were written by one writer, but subsequent books were written by ghost writers. For instance, many of the later books in The Saint adventure series were not written by Leslie Charteris, the series' originator. Similarly, Nancy Drew mystery books are published as though they were written by Carolyn Keene, The Hardy Boys books are published as the work of Franklin W. Dixon, and The Bobbsey Twins series are credited to Laura Lee Hope, although several authors have been involved in each series.
Collaborative authors may have also their works published under a single pen name. Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee published their mystery novels and stories under the pen name Ellery Queen (as well as publishing the work of ghost-writers under the same name). Cherith Baldry, Kate Cary, and Victoria Holmes wrote the Warriors series under the pseudonym of Erin Hunter to keep their readers from searching all over the library for their books. The writers of Atlanta Nights, a deliberately bad book intended to embarrass the publishing firm PublishAmerica, used the pen name Travis Tea. Sometimes multiple authors will write related books under the same pseudonym; examples include T. H. Lain in fiction.
Nicolas Bourbaki is the collective pseudonym under which a group of (mainly French) 20th-century mathematicians wrote a series of books presenting an exposition of modern advanced mathematics, beginning in 1935. With the goal of founding all of mathematics on set theory, the group strove for utmost rigour and generality, creating some new terminology and concepts along the way.
In 2007, three Slovenian artists legally changed their names to Janez Janša, the Slovenia’s economic-liberal, conservative prime minister at the time. When publicly asked whether this gesture was of an affirmative or subversive nature, they claimed they did it for "personal reasons". Most of their works, including art exhibitions, theatrical pieces, and publications, have since been signed under this name.
Suba is an example of collective pen name in Tamil literature. Kozma Prutkov is an example of collective pen name in Russian literature.
Concealment of identityA pseudonym may be used to protect the writer for exposé books about espionage or crime. Former SAS soldier Andy McNab used a pseudonym for his book about a failed SAS mission titled Bravo Two Zero. The name Ibn Warraq has been used by dissident Muslim authors. Author Brian O'Nolan used the pen names Flann O'Brien and Myles na gCopaleen for his novels and journalistic writing from the 1940s to the 1960s because Irish civil servants were not allowed at that time to publish works under their own names. The identity of the enigmatic twentieth century novelist B. Traven has never been conclusively revealed, despite thorough research.
The Histoire d'O (The Story of O), an erotic novel of sadomasochism and sexual slavery, was written by an editorial secretary with a reputation for near-prudery who used the pseudonym Pauline Réage.
For reasons unknown, but perhaps to escape the notice of English authorities, the author Robert Noonan chose the name Robert Tressell as his pseudonym to write the novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
Alice Bradley Sheldon had a multiplicity of reasons for writing under the pen name of James Tiptree, Jr.: she was a woman writing in the heavily male-dominated genre of science fiction; she was a bisexual woman who may have wanted to avoid the inherent biases of her readers; and she was a career intelligence officer, first in the Army Air Corps and then in the early years of the CIA, for whom concealment was a way of life.
After Stephen King's pen name Richard Bachman got released to the public, King said that Bachman had "died of cancer". After this, King began writing most of his stories under his own name. The event of King's pen name's being released helped conceive another novel, The Dark Half (1989).