Famous Pen Names

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):

  • Avi, whose real name is Edward Irving Wortis (b. 1937)

  • O. Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter (1862–1910)

  • Molière, whose real name was Jean Baptiste Poquelin (1622-1673)

  • Ouida, whose real name was Marie Louise de la Ramée (1839-1908)

  • Saki, whose real name was Hector Hugh Munro (1870–1916)

  • Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904–1991)

  • Shahriar, whose real name was Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Behjat-Tabrizi (1906-1988)

  • Stendhal, whose real name was Marie-Henri Beyle (1783–1842)

  • Voltaire, whose real name was François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778)

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:

  • George Orwell (1903-1950) was the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair

  • Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) was the pen name of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson

  • Mark Twain (1835-1910) was the pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

  • Toni Morrison (b. 1931) is the pen name of Chloe Anthony Wofford


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