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Famous Pen Names

Many writers publish under nom de plumes instead of their birth names, for a variety of reasons.

For instance, Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski and Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum anglicized their names to Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) and Ayn Rand (1905–1982), and Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga and Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto simplified their names to Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957) and Pablo Neruda (1904–1973).

Many female authors have been published under male names in order to avoid discrimination. George Eliot (1819-1880) was really named Mary Ann Evans, and Isak Dinesen (1885-1962) was actually Karen Blixen. The 19th-century sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Brontë were first published under the male names Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell. (Novelist Anne Rice (b. 1941) went the opposite way -- she decided to feminize her birth name, Howard.)

And then there are the writers who preferred to be known by a single name (or something close):
Some authors like pen names so much that they've used many more than one. Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, John Estes Cooke, Laura Bancroft, Suzanne Metcalf and Schuyler Staunton were all names under which Oz-creator L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) published. And, if you're good at anagrams, you'll see why Ogdred Weary, Regera Dowdy, Raddory Gewe, Dogear Wryde, E. G. Deadworry and Wardore Edgy appealed to Edward Gorey (1925-2000).

Finally, here are a few well-known authors whose familiar names aren't their given names, but pseudonyms:

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