A pen name, also called a nom de plume (French: [nɔ̃ də plym] ) or a literary double, is a pseudonym (or, in some cases, a variant form of a real name) adopted by an author and printed on the title page or by-line of their works in place of their real name.
A pen name may be used to make the author's name more distinctive, to disguise the author's gender, to distance the author from their other works, to protect the author from retribution for their writings, to merge multiple persons into a single identifiable author, or for any of a number of reasons related to the marketing or aesthetic presentation of the work.
The author's name may be known only to the publisher or may come to be common knowledge.
The French phrase nom de plume is occasionally still seen as a synonym for the English term "pen name," which is a "back-translation" and originated in England rather than France. H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler, in The King's English state that the term nom de plume evolved in Britain where people wanting a literary phrase failed to understand the term nom de guerre , which already existed in French.Since guerre means "war" in French, nom de guerre did not make sense to the British, who did not understand the French metaphor. See also French phrases used by English speakers.
An author may use a pen name if their real name is likely to be confused with that of another author or other significant individual. For instance, in 1899 the British politician Winston Churchill wrote under the name Winston S. Churchill to distinguish his writings from those of the American novelist of the same name.
An author may use a pen name implying a rank or title which they have never actually held. William Earl Johns wrote under the name "Captain W. E. Johns" although the highest army rank he held was acting lieutenant and his highest air force rank was flying officer.
Authors who regularly write in more than one genre may use different pen names for each, sometimes with no attempt to conceal a true identity. Romance writer Nora Roberts writes erotic thrillers under the pen name J. D. Robb (such books are titled "Nora Roberts writing as J. D. Robb"); Scots writer Iain Banks wrote mainstream or literary fiction under his own name and published science fiction under Iain M. Banks; 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 of Anson MacDonald (a combination of his middle name and his then wife's maiden name) and Caleb Strong 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 did not 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 their name does not suit the genre they are 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. Romain Gary, who was a well-known French writer, decided in 1973 to write novels in a different style under the name Émile Ajar and even asked his cousin's son to impersonate Ajar; thus he received the most prestigious French literary prize twice, which is forbidden by the prize rules. He revealed the affair in a book he sent his editor just before committing suicide in 1980.
Some pen names have been used for long periods, even decades, without the author's true identity being discovered, such as Elena Ferrante and Torsten Krol.
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.
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. Some, however, do this to fit a certain theme. One example, Pseudonymous Bosch, used his pen name just to expand the theme of secrecy in The Secret Series .
Authors also may occasionally choose pen names to appear in more favorable positions in bookshops or libraries, to maximize visibility when placed on shelves that are conventionally arranged alphabetically moving horizontally, then upwards vertically.
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 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, a Swedish author of the 19th century, wrote under the name Ernst Ahlgren. The science fiction author Alice B. Sheldon for many years published under the masculine name of James Tiptree, Jr., the discovery of which led to a deep discussion of gender in the genre.
More recently, women who write in genres commonly written by men sometimes choose to use initials, such as K. A. Applegate, C. J. Cherryh, 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).
A 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 numerous authors have been involved in each series. Erin Hunter, author of the Warriors novel series, is actually a collective pen name used by authors Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui T. Sutherland, and the editor Victoria Holmes.
Collaborative authors may also have 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. The writers of Atlanta Nights , a deliberately bad book intended to embarrass the publishing firm PublishAmerica,[ citation needed ] used the pen name Travis Tea. Additionally, the credited author of The Expanse , James S.A. Corey, is an amalgam of the middle names of collaborating writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck respectively, while S.A. are the initials of Abraham's daughter. Sometimes multiple authors will write related books under the same pseudonym; examples include T. H. Lain in fiction. The Australian fiction collaborators who write under the pen name Alice Campion are a group of women who have so far writtenThe Painted Sky (2015), Der Bunte Himmel (2015), and The Shifting Light (2017).
In the 1780s, The Federalist Papers were written under the pseudonym "Publius" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The three men chose the name "Publius" because it recalled the founder of the Roman Republic and using it implied a positive intention.
In pure mathematics, Nicolas Bourbaki is the pseudonym of a group of mostly French-connected mathematicians attempting to expose the field in an axiomatic and self-contained, encyclopedic form.
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A pseudonym may be used to protect the writer of exposé books about espionage or crime. Former SAS soldier Steven Billy Mitchell used the pseudonym Andy McNab for his book about a failed SAS mission titled Bravo Two Zero . The name Ibn Warraq ("son of a papermaker") 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.[ citation needed ] The identity of the enigmatic twentieth-century novelist B. Traven has never been conclusively revealed, despite thorough research.[ citation needed ]
A multiple-use name or anonymity pseudonym is a pseudonym open for anyone to use and these have been adopted by various groups, often as a protest against the cult of individual creators. In Italy, two anonymous groups of writers have gained some popularity with the collective names of Luther Blissett and Wu Ming.
In Indian languages, writers may put a pen name at the end of their names, like Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. Sometimes they also write under their pen name without their actual name like Firaq Gorakhpuri.
In early Indian literature, we find authors shying away from using any name considering it to be egotistical. Due to this notion, even today it is hard to trace the authorship of many earlier literary works from India. Later, we find that the writers adopted the practice of using the name of their deity of worship or Guru's name as their pen name. In this case, typically the pen name would be included at the end of the prose or poetry.
Composers of Indian classical music used pen names in compositions to assert authorship, including Sadarang, Gunarang (Fayyaz Ahmed Khan), Ada Rang (court musician of Muhammad Shah), Sabrang (Bade Ghulam Ali Khan), and Ramrang (Ramashreya Jha). Other compositions are apocryphally ascribed to composers with their pen names.
Japanese poets who write haiku often use a haigō (俳号). The haiku poet Matsuo Bashō had used two other haigō before he became fond of a banana plant (bashō) that had been given to him by a disciple and started using it as his pen name at the age of 36.
Similar to a pen name, Japanese artists usually have a gō or art-name, which might change a number of times during their career. In some cases, artists adopted different gō at different stages of their career, usually to mark significant changes in their life. One of the most extreme examples of this is Hokusai, who in the period 1798 to 1806 alone used no fewer than six. Manga artist Ogure Ito uses the pen name Oh! great because his real name Ogure Ito is roughly how the Japanese pronounce "oh great".
A shâ'er (Persian from Arabic, for poet) (a poet who writes she'rs in Urdu or Persian) almost always has a "takhallus", a pen name, traditionally placed at the end of the name (often marked by a graphical signplaced above it) when referring to the poet by his full name. For example, Hafez is a pen-name for Shams al-Din, and thus the usual way to refer to him would be Shams al-Din Hafez or just Hafez. Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan (his official name and title) is referred to as Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib , or just Mirza Ghalib.
Dean Ray Koontz is an American author. His novels are billed as suspense thrillers, but frequently incorporate elements of horror, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and satire. Many of his books have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list, with fourteen hardcovers and sixteen paperbacks reaching the number-one position. Koontz wrote under a number of pen names earlier in his career, including "David Axton", "Deanna Dwyer", "K.R. Dwyer", "Leigh Nichols" and "Brian Coffey". He has published over 105 novels and a number of novellas and collections of short stories, and has sold over 450 million copies of his work.
A pseudonym or alias is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their original or true name (orthonym). This also differs from a new name that entirely or legally replaces an individual's own. The pseudonym identifies one or more persons who have true names but do not publicly disclose them. Most pseudonym holders use pseudonyms because they wish to remain anonymous, but anonymity is difficult to achieve and often fraught with legal issues.
A writer is a person who uses written words in different styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce different forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, books, poetry, plays, screenplays, teleplays, songs, and essays as well as other reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public. Writers' texts are published across a range of media. Skilled writers who are able to use language to express ideas well, often contribute significantly to the cultural content of a society.
Anne Cécile Desclos was a French journalist and novelist who wrote under the pseudonyms Dominique Aury and Pauline Réage, and is best known for her erotic novel Histoire d'O.
Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia and its émigrés and to Russian-language literature. The roots of Russian literature can be traced to the Middle Ages, when epics and chronicles in Old East Slavic were composed. By the Age of Enlightenment, literature had grown in importance, and from the early 1830s, Russian literature underwent an astounding golden age in poetry, prose and drama. Romanticism permitted a flowering of poetic talent: Vasily Zhukovsky and later his protégé Alexander Pushkin came to the fore. Prose was flourishing as well. The first great Russian novelist was Nikolai Gogol. Then came Ivan Turgenev, who mastered both short stories and novels. Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy soon became internationally renowned. In the second half of the century Anton Chekhov excelled in short stories and became a leading dramatist. The beginning of the 20th century ranks as the Silver Age of Russian poetry. The poets most often associated with the "Silver Age" are Konstantin Balmont, Valery Bryusov, Alexander Blok, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov, Osip Mandelstam, Sergei Yesenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak. This era produced some first-rate novelists and short-story writers, such as Aleksandr Kuprin, Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin, Leonid Andreyev, Fyodor Sologub, Aleksey Remizov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Dmitry Merezhkovsky and Andrei Bely.
Eleanor Alice Hibbert was an English author who combined imagination with facts to bring history alive through novels of fiction and romance. She was a prolific writer who published several books a year in different literary genres, each genre under a different pen name: Jean Plaidy for fictionalized history of European royalty; Victoria Holt for gothic romances, and Philippa Carr for a multi-generational family saga. A literary split personality, she also wrote light romances, crime novels, murder mysteries and thrillers under the various pseudonyms Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Anna Percival, and Ellalice Tate.
Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre, in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre.
A ghostwriter is hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author. Celebrities, executives, participants in timely news stories, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, memoirs, magazine articles, or other written material. Memoir ghostwriters often pride themselves in "disappearing" when impersonating others since such disappearance signals the quality of their craftsmanship. In music, ghostwriters are often used to write songs, lyrics, and instrumental pieces. Screenplay authors can also use ghostwriters to either edit or rewrite their scripts to improve them. Usually, there is a confidentiality clause in the contract between the ghostwriter and the credited author that obligates the former to remain anonymous. Sometimes the ghostwriter is acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, euphemistically called a "researcher" or "research assistant", but often the ghostwriter is not credited.
Evan Hunter was an American author and screenwriter who also wrote under a number of pen names, most notably Ed McBain, used for most of his crime fiction. Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, he legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952; he also used the pen names John Abbott, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, Ezra Hannon, and Richard Marsten, amongst others. His 87th Precinct novels have become staples of the police procedural genre.
Jayne Ann Krentz, née Jayne Castle, is an American writer of romance novels. Krentz is the author of a string of New York Times bestsellers under seven different pseudonyms. Now, she only uses three names. Under her married name she writes contemporary romantic-suspense. She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense. She uses her maiden name for futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense writing.
Young adult fiction (YA) is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years of age. While the genre is targeted to adolescents, approximately half of YA readers are adults.
Literary fiction is a term used in the book-trade to distinguish novels that are regarded as having literary merit, from most commercial or "genre" fiction. However, the boundaries are not fixed, and major literary figures have employed the genres of science fiction, crime fiction, romance, etc, to create works of literature. Furthermore, the study of genre fiction has developed within academia in recent decades.
Donald Edwin Westlake was an American writer, with more than a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction and other genres. Westlake is perhaps best-remembered for creating two professional criminal characters who each starred in a long-running series: the relentless, hard-boiled Parker, and John Dortmunder, who featured in a more humorous series.
Victorian literature refers to English literature during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). English writing from this era reflects the major transformation in most aspects of English life, such as significant scientific, economic, and technological advances to changes in class structures and the role of religion in society. While the Romantic period was a time of abstract expression and inward focus, essayists, poets, and novelists during the Victorian era began to reflect and comment on realities of the day, including criticisms of the dangers of factory work, the plight of the lower class, and the treatment of women and children. Prominent examples include poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and novelists Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Barrett's poem entitled "Cry of the Children," published in 1844, focused on the horrific conditions faced by children working in factories. The popularity of the poem served to shed light on important social and political issues of the day, while also furthering the cause of feminism—cementing her standing as a successful and renowned female poet in a male-dominated world. Dickens employed humour and an approachable tone while addressing social problems such as wealth disparity. Hardy used his novels to question religion and social structures.
Aaron Marc Stein, who used the nom de plume George Bagby, was an American novelist who specialized in mystery fiction. Bagby's focus was on police investigators, especially the fictional Inspector Schmidt, Chief of Homicide for the New York Police Department. In the Schmidt novels, mystery-writer Bagby himself appears as "the Watson to Schmidt's Holmes, following him on cases, and acting as biographer." A number of his novels have been translated into other languages, including German, French, and Spanish.
Jason Dark is the 'nom de plume' of Helmut Rellergerd, a prolific author of horror detective fiction in the German language. His work has been favourably compared to that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Physician writers are physicians who write creatively in fields outside their practice of medicine.
A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living writing novels and other fiction, while others aspire to support themselves in this way or write as an avocation. Most novelists struggle to have their debut novel published, but once published they often continue to be published, although very few become literary celebrities, thus gaining prestige or a considerable income from their work.
The Cuckoo's Calling is a 2013 crime fiction novel by J. K. Rowling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. It is the first novel in the Cormoran Strike series of detective novels and was followed by The Silkworm in 2014, Career of Evil in 2015, Lethal White in 2018 and Troubled Blood in 2020.
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