"For several years I lived on the proceeds of the three novels I wrote as Edgar Box.
The New York Times lavished praise on Box; then, years later, when I published all three in a single volume, confessing to their authorship, the
Times retracted its three good reviews to give me a bad one."
A Pen Name (also known as a pseudonym or "nom de plume" if you want to sound fancy) is a made-up name a writer or artist (in the case of performers, this is called a Stage Name
) produces works under for whatever reason. Often due to Rule of Cool
, but other reasons also abound. In the case of famous actors / people, it's sometimes a way to find out whether or not they'd be succesful even without their star power attached to it. Many writers have used a fictional name in order to avoid the typecasting associated with their name and particular genres, allowing them to write outside the expected genre that they've become well known for. Some manga creators use a pen name to avoid legal difficulties due to rules of their regular employment (school teachers and civil servants in Japan are often forbidden from pursuing other sources of income and it could be scandalous if a high school teacher was also a mangaka). A pseudonym may be used to protect the writer for exposé books about espionage or crime. Many female writers have used male pen names when writing in a male-dominated genre, and male writers have used female-sounding pen names when writing in a female-dominated genre, due to public expectations or the avoidance of potential scandal.
Supertrope of Moustache de Plume
and Same Face, Different Name
, so please don't repeat those examples here.
- Apollo C. Vermouth (Paul McCartney)
- Andrew Clements (Hanne Turk)
- Anne Onymous (not yet revealed)
- B. Traven (not yet revealed, assumed to have been Ret Marut or Otto Feige). Virtually every detail of Traven's life has been disputed and hotly debated.
- Bill Bailey (Mark Bailey; he named himself after the wartime song "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey")
- Boz (Charles Dickens, in his first works)
- C. Spike Trotman (not yet revealed)
- CaptainGerBear (Geremy Walker)
- Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr—also used his own name).
- Cecil Adams may or may not be the pen name of Ed Zotti. (As Ed has remarked, he finds it amusing that so many people question Cecil Adams' name but never his own.)
- Charles Ogden (various authors)
- Claymore J. Flapdoodle (Phil Foglio on cards with his art in the Magic: The Gathering joke set Unglued)
- Cordwainer Smith (Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger)
- Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison; a Shout-Out to the above, reserved for "Alan Smithee" situations where he feels that Executive Meddling messed his contribution beyond repair)
- Count Dante (John Keehan)
- Darren Shan (Darren O'Shaunnessy)
- Ding Ling (Jiang Bingzhi)
- David Cage (David De Gruttola)
- David Wong (Jason Pargin)
- e. o. plauen (Erich Ohser when he produced Vater und Sohn)
- Edogawa Rampo was born Hirai Tarō. He chose his pen name because it sounded like Edgar Allan Poe (Rule of Cool).
- Emily Rodda (Jennifer Rowe)
- G.A. McKevett (Sonja Massie)
- George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
- George Orwell (Eric Blair)
- George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin de Francueil)
- Gerald Wiley (Ronnie Barker)
- Herge (Georges Remi)
- Isaac Asimov is actually an inversion. Many assumed it was an exotic pen name for a sci-fi author, but it was his actual name.
- Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg)
- Jack Yeovil (Kim Newman)
- Jean Paul (Jean Paul Friedrich Richter)
- J. E. Mand ("S. O. Meone") (Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as playwright)
- Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
- Joachim Ringelnatz (Hans Bötticher)
- John Twelve Hawks (as of yet unknown)
- Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Nalecz Konrad Korzeniowski)
- Kenny Everett (Maurice Cole)
- Kim Harrison (Dawn Cook)
- Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
- Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
- Linkara (Lewis Lovhaug. Lewis used it as a pen name for his childhood novels. It soon was used as a log in name for his written reviews and finally became, well, Linkara.)
- Loriot (Vicco von Bülow)
- Marc Bolan (Marc Feld)
- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
- Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) (also a stage name)
- Morris (Maurice De Bevere)
- N.W. Clerk (C. S. Lewis)
- Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Jane Cochran)
- Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg)
- Ogure Ito uses the pen name 'Oh! Great' because his real name Ogure Ito is roughly how the Japanese pronounce "oh great".
- O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
- Orlando M. Pilchard (Nick Pelling, BBC Micro programmer)
- Osamu Tezuka uses the nickname Osamushi, which is the Japanese name of a beetle; he writes it like Osamu + mushi ('insect').
- Masamune Shirow, possibly born Ota Masanori; he has never published under his real name and it's still not confirmed. He began creating manga while a high school teacher; so he's very cautious with his privacy. He never appears in public, and forbids photographs.
- Paul French (Isaac Asimov)
- Philalethes (King John of Saxony)
- Professor Hoffmann (Angelo John Lewis)
- Pseudonymous Bosch (Raphael Simon)
- Quino (Joaquín Salvador Lavado)
- Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
- Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey)
- Rius (Eduardo del Río)
- Shotaro Onodera whose earlier pen name, Ishimori, was due to an editor's error in 1959 but changed in 1986 to Shotaro Ishinomori.
- Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)
- Silence Dogood (Benjamin Franklin)
- Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Lieber)
- Stendhal (Henri Beyle)
- S. W. Erndase — a person wrote The Expert at the Card Table under this name in the early 1900s. The author's true identity remains a mystery to this day.
- ThatAmericanSlacker (Miles Krohn)
- ThatPersonYouMightKnow (not yet revealed)
- Vic Reeves (Jim Moir)
- Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet)
- Possibly William Shakespeare, according to several (unproven) theories.
- Dr. Winston O'Boogie (John Lennon)
- Wolfman Jack (Bob Smith)
Sometimes one person uses multiple pen names:
- Anson MacDonald, Caleb Saunders, John Riverside, Leslie Keith, Lyle Monroe (Robert A. Heinlein)
- Ampe R. Sand / Dave Ahl Jr. / Zarf (Andrew Plotkin)
- Anne Desclos, writer of Histoire d'O (Story of O), used the pseudonym Pauline Réage. Under another pen name for most of her novels, she was Dominique Aury (known for a demure, intellectual, and almost prudish persona).
- Anne Rice, Anne Rampling, A.N. Roquelaure (Howard Allen O'Brien, Rice by marriage) note
- Ashida Kim, Christopher Hunter, and possibly Dr. Ha Ha Lung (Radford W. Davis)
- Brian O'Nolan used the pen names Flann O'Brien and Myles na gCopaleen for his novels and journalistic writing because Irish civil servants were not allowed at that time to publish works under their own names.
- Buronson (the name chosen both due to Rule of Cool and as a tribute to the American actor Charles Bronson, whose mustache he imitated), also known as Fumimura Shō, was born as Yoshiyuki Okamura.
- Dr. Seuss, Theo. LeSieg (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
- David Gordon, Lou Tabakow, Ivar Jorgenson, Darrel T. Langart , Jonathan Blake MacKenzie, S. M. Tenneshaw, and Gordon Aghill, Randall Garrett (Randall Phillip Garrett)
- David Osborne, Calvin M. Nox (Robert Silverberg)
- Ignaz Wrobel, Kaspar Hauser, Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger (Kurt Tucholsky)
- The German writer used four pseudonyms while working on Die Weltbühne so his name would not appear so often on the index, assigning different styles to his four alter egos. Theobald Tiger wrote only in verse, Peter Panter general satires, Ignaz Wrobel acerbic, hard-hitting stuff, and Kaspar Hauser on the lines of "this world is crazy".
- James Tiptree, Jr., Raccoona Sheldon (Alice Bradley Sheldon)
- J. K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith (Joanne Rowling).
- Kawashita Mizuki used to draw shoujo (teenage girls) manga under the pen name Momokuri Mikan but changed to Kawashita Mizuki later on when she started writing romance manga.
- John Wyndham, John Beynon and Lucas Parkes (John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris)
- Moebius, Gir (Jean Giraud)
- Robert Jordan, Reagan O'Neil (James Oliver Rigney Jr.)
- Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm (Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden)
- Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Samuel Holt(Donald Westlake)
- Pat Murphy wrote There and Back Again under the pseudonym of Max Merriwell. She wrote Wild Angel under the name Mary Maxwell, which was supposed to be Max Merriwell writing under a pen name. In Adventures in Space and Time With Max Merriwell (written under her real name) Max Merriwell meets his pen names on a cruise.
Sometimes two or more people use one pen name:
- Ellery Queen (Daniel Nathan and Manford Lepofsky)
- Emma Lathen (Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Hennisart)
- Erin Hunter is the pen name of five authors of Warrior Cats, Seeker Bears and Survivors (Victoria Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland, and Gillian Philip).
- Grant Naylor (Rob Grant and Doug Naylor)
- Fujiko Fujio (Hiroshi Fujimoto, who has since passed away, and Motoo Abiko)
- Franklin W. Dixon, writer of The Hardy Boys
- Carolyn Keene, writer of Nancy Drew
- Kozma Prutkov (A.K.Tolstoy and Zhemchuzhnikov Brothers)
- Publius, author of the Federalist Papers, was three Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
- Michael Slade, pen name of two Canadian lawyers whose thrillers pit the Mounties against serial killers
- LA Graf, a pen name used by Julia Ecklar and Karen Rose Cercone for their collaborative works in the Star Trek Novel Verse, as well as one Alien Nation novel. (The name stands for "Let's All Get Rich And Famous.")
- Robert Randall (Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett)
- Many pulp and paperback publishers used "house pseudonyms" so that it would appear that one writer wrote e. g. all stories featuring a certain hero even if they were actually written by a succession of work-for-hire writers. See Extruded Book Product.
- TSR explained that their reason for doing this with the Forgotten Realms Avatar Trilogy (Scott Cecien and Troy Denning under the name Richard Awlinson) and Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition novels (nine authors, including names that could probably shift product to D&D fans on their own, writing as T.H. Lain) was that it ensured the books would all be shelved next to each other in bookstores.
- Owen Hatteras (H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan)
- For Rocky and Bullwinkle, the name "Ponsonby Britt" was used as a pseudonym for Jay Ward and Bill Scott because the network wanted an "executive producer" credit and the two already received "producer" credits.
- The Melody Man, a comedy play which flopped badly on Broadway in 1924, was ascribed to one Herbert Richard Lorenz. Herbert Fields, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart took their last names off the play apparently because they considered that it would become their Old Shame.
- Nicolas Bourbaki was the pen name of a group of French mathematicians.
- Tim McGee in NCIS writes thrillers under the pen name "Thom E. Gemcity," which is of course an anagram of his real name.
- Strong Bad from Homestar Runner once claimed that he writes an advice column for a girls' magazine under the "pseudoname" Cara Carabowditbowdit.
- Monster: Franz Bonaparta, Klaus Poppe, Emil Sebe, and Jakub Farobek. All one person.
- The X-Files—Fox Mulder wrote an Omni article under the name "M.F. Luder."
- Castle main character Richard Edgar Castle was born Richard Alexander Rogers.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: Haruna Saotome (no relation to that other Saotome) uses the moniker "Paru".
- Kenji Harima from School Rumble draws manga under the pen name Harima Hario.
- Ender’s Game: Peter and Valentine Wiggin use the pen names "Locke" and "Demosthenes" (respectively) to write blogs for political discourse. Ender later takes one of his own, "The Speaker for the Dead," to write biographies of his brother, the Hive Queen, and later for one of the pequeninos.
- Galaxy of Fear: Working on the Holonet, Tash Arranda takes the usernames Seeker and Searcher1. A different user puts out stories about the extinct Jedi Knights under the penname ForceFlow. Even when he meets Tash, he doesn't tell her his real name. Because he's actually the Big Bad.
- In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, the eponymous Johnny Hollow provides a Spooky Photograph to an Occult Detective investigating a Mystery Cult. Careful examination of the investigator's other documents reveals that "Hollow" is an alias adopted by Johnathon H. Ollow, a writer for the in-universe newspaper, The Greater Toronto Gazette.