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Moustache de Plume

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Author Robert Galbraith, real name Joanne Rowling.
Charlotte Brontë: People will have less respect for us as woman authors.
Emily Brontë: We should use male-sounding pen names!
Charlotte Brontë: Brilliant!
Jane Eyre by Johnny Guns. Wuthering Heights by Bruce Punisher

There exists a belief that novels written by women, at least in certain genres, won't sell as well. Perhaps it's the stereotype that women tend to write domestic novels or "fluff" that have very narrow appeal. Perhaps it's because historically most of the works considered the great masterpieces of the literary canon were written by men. Perhaps it's because certain fandoms (Speculative Fiction for instance) are predominantly male and publishers assume these men won't take books by female authors seriously. Perhaps it's because the publishers themselves wouldn't even bother to read a book with a woman's name on it.

However, this has not stopped many women from writing and successfully publishing their works. They just have to pull small sleight of hand: conceal their gender. Since authors are usually not on film and therefore not seen, this can be done simply by adopting a Pen Name. Typically, female authors take one of three approaches.

  1. Shortening their name to a series of initials which are gender ambiguous.
  2. Adopting a completely male name to outright fool the public.
  3. Adopting an ambiguous name in hopes that people will assume male.

Sometimes highly successful female authors will create a Moustache De Plume if they are publishing a type of book well outside their normal material. For instance, Nora Roberts (a romance novelist) published mystery books under the pseudonym J.D. Robb. When she became better known under her real name, the mystery series was credited to "Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb." This is ironic, as "Nora Roberts" is itself a pen name. The author's real name is Eleanor Marie Robertson.

Note: This trope is explicitly about situations where the author is credited under a name that will not reveal their gender. One way to do this is to use initials, but not everyone using their initials is trying to conceal their gender. Therefore, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, H. P. Lovecraft or L. M. Montgomery (who never hid the fact that she was a woman) do not fit this trope.

There are, in fact, Spear Counterparts, as in the Romance Novel business.

Depending on how you look at it, this could be seen as the exception that either proves or disproves the rule that Most Writers Are Male.

Subtrope of Pen Name. See also Same Face, Different Name, Girl-Show Ghetto, Tomboyish Name. Related to Gender-Blender Name, when it's the person's given name that's ambiguous.

Not to be confused with Girls with Moustaches.

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Straight Examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bloom Into You, Koyomi's favorite author is actually a woman with a male pen name. She's initially shocked to realize this but eventually decides she still admires her and hopes that her story will reach the final round of the contest she entered, where the author will read it.
  • In Comic Girls, Tsubasa Katsuki is a girl who draws Shōnen manga, which is mostly drawn by men. While her name is gender-neutral, she used the decidedly masculine pen name of Wing V.
  • In Goodbye, My Rose Garden,the bookstore owner mentions how there's a lot of speculation about the reclusive Victor Franks, bringing up that he may be a woman writing under a man's name like Emily Brontë. As it turns out, he's correct, as Victor Franks is the pseudonym of Alice.
  • Not an author, but an example nonetheless: In the original Japanese release of Gunsmith Cats, according to Word of God, female bounty hunter Rally Vincent's name is actually pronounced as Larry. It's hinted, at least in one page of the manga, that she took this name so that those seeking to hire a bounty hunter would think she was a man, and thus take her seriously.
  • In Nichijou, Mio Naganohara writes her yaoi manga under the masculine pen name "Daisuke Naganohara".
  • Gender-inverted in Whispered Words where Ushio's older brother Norio writes lesbian novels under a female pen-name because his target audience wouldn't accept his novels otherwise.

    Comic Books 
  • In Iron Man Noir, Pepper Potts works as a pulp magazine writer under the pen name "Frank Finlay". When she applies for the position of Tony Stark's personal chronicler, describing the events of his exploits to be published in Marvels: A Magazine of Men's Adventure, she assures him it's a very common practice; Norman Brundage is her roommate Julie. Stark and his friend James Rhodes later share a chuckle over the fact that apparently some of his favorite writers wear skirts. At the end of the last issue, however, we see that her stories are now published under her real name - no doubt at Stark's insistence. (The names are chosen to honor two famous pulp-era artists, Virgil Finlay and Margaret Brundage.)
  • One of Bill Tidy's Grumbledon Down comic strips in New Scientist had Director Treen praising a female subordinate for getting her science fiction novel published, thereby breaking down gender bias in publishing, only to then see the book with a male name on the cover.

  • Discussed in The Jane Austen Book Club. Grigg, who starts reading Jane Austen's books to get closer to his Love Interest, tries to get her into his favorite sci-fi novels. He notes that originally he and his dad used them as a "guy thing" to bond over due to living in a mostly-female household; as he got older, however, he learned that some of his favorite authors were actually women, name-checking a few of the Real Life examples below. He quips that, fortunately, by that point he was old enough to like girls.

  • In Darren Shan's third book of The Demonata, there is a movie producer named David A. Haym. Who is actually named Davida Haym.
  • In Little Women the character Josephine attempts to get some of her writings published, she is unsuccessful until she ends them in using the more masculine "Jo".
  • Cuthbert Lucas (real name Clara Keppel), the author of The Automaton in Look to the West.
  • In Nim's Island, Alex Rover, an Indiana Jones-type character who writes novels about his exciting adventures, is actually Alexandra Rover, neurotic female author.
  • In The Scar, the accomplished linguist Bellis Coldwine publishes her books as B. Coldwine due to sexism in New Crobuzon's academic circles and is quietly bitter about the situation.
  • One of the characters in Agatha Christie's Three Act Tragedy is a female playwright who publishes her works as "Anthony Aston". Her real name is Muriel Wills.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of the Canadian show Radio Active involved a guest speaker who was a woman who had been pretending to be a man to get into writing. It turned out to not be the woman pictured on the back of the book, but their English Teacher, who explains that she had to pretend to be an attractive woman pretending to be a man to be able to get anywhere in writing.
  • K.C. Hunter, Kira's counterpart in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Elseworld of 1950s science fiction writers, who's pretty clearly based on C. L. Moore (with Bashir's counterpart as Henry Kuttner). This is also likely a tribute to the aforementioned Dorothy Catherine "D.C." Fontana, who was a 1960s Science Fiction writer for Star Trek, who originally started as Gene Roddenberry's secretary. She went by D.C., of course, to avoid the stigma of being a female writer and wrote some of the most well-known episodes of the show, as well as the most acclaimed episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series. When a group photograph of the writers is suggested, Hunter is told to take the day off rather than give the game away (so is the only black writer on staff).
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy writes a book under the pen name K.C. Smith. People assume that the author is a man until she reveals her identity.
  • In the Wagon Train episode "The C.L. Harding Story," the title character is a female reporter whom Major Adams had given permission to ride with the train for a story, not realizing she was a woman.
  • According to Warehouse 13, H. G. Wells was actually Helena Wells, and wasn't just making up about some of the inventions in her books.
  • Colonel March of Scotland Yard: In "The Strange Event at Roman Falls", the wife of famous reclusive writer is accused of his murder after she reports him falling off the cliff near their home into the sea. However, it turns out the writer never existed at all. He was a male nom de plume created by the woman to allow her to publish her works and be taken seriously. However, after an old romance rekindled, she decided to fake the death of the fake husband to allow her to marry her love.
  • A non-writing example is the setup for Remington Steele: private investigator Laura Holt has very little success finding business due to people not trusting a female PI, so she renames her practice to "Remington Steele Agency" after a non-existent male superior. The show kicks off when a mysterious conman claiming to be Steele hijacks the agency.
  • Fantasy Island (2021): Rachel Coldwater, a 19th century writer, had to publish under an assumed name and use her husband as the official author, as her books could not be published by a woman.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Urban Jungle module "Astounding Science" has a reference to James Tiptree Jr. / Alice Sheldon in the character of Alice Tiptree, a female raccoon sci-fi writer who publishes under male pseudonyms. And who gets possessed by an alien prince from Counter-Earth.

  • This Casey and Andy strip.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Lady Gwendolyn von Caedhin, the leading academic authority on Drath summoning, publishes her textbooks as Professor G.P. von Caedhin. It's not a secret, but one drunken boor at a party didn't get the memo and lectures her on material that she herself wrote.
    Guest: Lady von Caedhin, please... he didn't know.
    Gwendolyn: [cackling] Obviously! Did you hear him? "You might find it a little dry!"

    Western Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Puss in Boots the author of Dulcinea's favorite book, Miguel A. Andante, turns out to have been a woman named Miguela Andante. Rather than a deliberate invocation of the trope, this is just the result of a typo in publishing. One of many reasons the author is not fond of that particular book.

    Visual Novels 
  • In A Little Lily Princess, on Lavinia's route, Lavinia gifts Sara with a book written by a woman under a male pen name.

    Real Life 
  • J. K. Rowling does not have a middle name; her real name is just Joanne Rowling, and she simply added the "K" (short for Kathleen, her grandmother's name) at her publisher's demand. She also writes the Cormoran Strike Novels as Robert Galbraith, which is likely a combination of gender issues and simply seeing if her non-Harry Potter books could stand on their own merit.note 
  • K. A. Applegate: Publishers were afraid that boys would turned off of reading Animorphs, a series about teenagers being forced to fight a secret guerrilla war if her gender was obvious. She has written some latter non-Animorphs books as Katherine Applegate. K.A. Applegate was also a shared pseudonym with her husband, Michael Grant, who co-wrote some of the books.
  • George Eliot. She adopted the name to ensure she would be taken seriously as an author, instead of being considered a writer of sappy Romantics (and sometimes plain ol' Romances), as most female authors of the time. She also penned the essay "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists," which hilariously criticizes the publishers of typical sappy romances of the time knowing that female writers were often not able to get the better sort of publishers to even read their books.
  • James Tiptree Jr. a.k.a. Alice Sheldon (also AKA Raccoona Sheldon)
    • Worth noting that Alice Sheldon worked in the intelligence community and presumably had some practical knowledge of how to conceal one's identity and did a good enough job of it such that even "his" publishers didn't know. She didn't voluntarily reveal her true identity, it was discovered by fans. Yes, that's right, SF fans are apparently better at ferreting out this kind of thing than actual spies.
  • George Sand, 19h century French writer, a.k.a. Aurore Dupin.
  • E. L. Konigsburg, creator of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
  • S. E. Hinton, author of the gang novel The Outsiders.
  • P. L. Travers, creator of Mary Poppins.
  • P. D. James, who wrote a series of detective novels starring police commander and poet Adam Dalgliesh, among other works.
  • Hiromu Arakawa's real first name is Hiromi, but she uses "Hiromu" instead as it's more gender-neutral. She isn't very secretive about her gender otherwise, as she's referenced things like being pregnant in her blog several times.
  • C. J. Cherryh, who also added a silent "h" to the end of her last name to differentiate herself from her SF artist brother David Cherry. There was also a tendency by less-than-attentive bookstore workers to put her books with the romances before the "h" was added.
    • Also, she has made the claim that most people who see a female named "Cherry" immediately assume she's a stripper or a porn star.
  • Julian May (Her real name oddly enough, but she has also published under "Ian Thorne", "J. C. May" and "Lee N. Falconer".)
  • Robin Hobb (more Gender-Blender Name than outright male but serves the same purpose).
  • John Sedges, aka Pearl S. Buck. And this was after she won the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes.
  • Andre Norton, born Alice Norton, actually changed her legal name to Andre Alice Norton after becoming famous under her pseudonym.
  • Mary Graham Bonner would have her baseball-themed stories published under "M. G. Bonner" due to "masculine sensitivities".
  • Inversion: Anne Rice, whose birth name was Howard Allen O'Brien, did not appreciate the wacky name that her parents gave her and started calling herself "Anne" on her first day of school. She did use the pseudonym "A. N. Roquelaure" for some erotic novels, in order to distance them from her supernatural books, though current editions have both names right on the cover.
  • S. D. Tower, author of The Assassins of Tamurin.
  • Henry Handel Richardson (real name: Ethel Florence Lindsay Richardson) adopted a male name because of the difficulties 19th-century women faced in getting published.
  • Mary Shelley at one point published Frankenstein anonymously with her husband's name on the preface, which he wrote for her. This gave the impression Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the whole thing. The initial publishing had no attribution at all.
  • All the Brontë sisters originally published their stories under male pseudonyms. (Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, for Charlotte, Emily, and Anne.) This is sent up in Cold Comfort Farm where the male intellectual Mr. "Mybug" Mayerberg, indignant that so many of England's greatest novels were written by girlies that he writes a thesis claiming that they were all drunks and druggies and their brother Branwell (who was the drunk and druggie of the family in real life) wrote all their stories for them.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's first publisher had her credited as U. Le Guin. She got rather upset when she realised that her middle initial (K. for Kroeber) was omitted. Add to that that female SF authors were rare in the 1960s. She changed to the current version of her name shortly afterwards.
  • C. L. Moore, co-author and wife of Henry Kuttner. A significant number of works billed as Kuttner's were actually written by Moore because they noticed stories sold better under his (pen)name(s).
    • Complicated even further because they frequently collaborated (and used a variety of pen names for those also, including probably most prominently "Lewis Padgett"). It's been theorized by people who knew them that every story either of them ever published was at least partly a collaboration, regardless of what name it was published under.
    • In Moore's case, though, the use of initials was not to conceal her identity from editors or readers, but from her boss at the bank she worked at. She began to write during the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, and she believed that if the boss knew she had another source of income, she'd be canned.
  • D. C. (Dorothy Catherine) Fontana, writer of some of Star Trek's best-loved episodes. She also used the name "Michael Richards" for two episodes of the third season she wasn't happy with.
  • C. S. Friedman changed to Celia Friedman in her most recent works and reeditions.
  • J. V. Jones, author of fantasy trilogy "The Book of Words" and fantasy series "A Sword of Shadows".
  • Karen Blixen published her works (most famously Out of Africa) under the pen name of Isak Dinesen (Dinesen was her maiden name).
  • Rob Thurman is really a Robyn, female.
  • (Nelle) Harper Lee. Really interesting, since To Kill a Mockingbird is both autobiographical and plainly from a girl's perspective.
  • (Stella) Miles Franklin, known for the romance novel My Brilliant Career.
  • J. T. Leroy, although this was an entire invented persona rather than simply an attempt to conceal her gender alone.
  • R. M. Meluch, a science fiction author whose works include the Tour of the Merrimack series of military science fiction/space opera novels.
  • The writer of the popular ambulance control centre blog Nee Naw admitted they were using pseudonyms for anonymity reasons. Still, it was a shock when 'Mike Myers' revealed that he was actually a 'Suzi Brent'.
  • D. C. (Dana Claire) Simpson, creator of Ozy and Millie. Some justification for this as Simpson is transgender and initially self-published under her birth name of David Craig Simpson.
  • "The" poet Michael Field (actually two women, Katherine Harris Bradley and Edith Emma Cooper).
  • Short-story author George Egerton (Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright).
  • Novelist and playwright John Oliver Hobbes (Pearl S. Craigie).
  • Science fiction novelist Ann C. Crispin's best-known works, The Han Solo Trilogy from the Star Wars Legends, were published as A. C. Crispin, though the "About the Author" section clearly had her as Ann C. Crispin.
  • Ellis Peters was really Edith Pargeter. She also published less-famous mystery novels as Peter Benedict, Jolyon Carr, and John Redfern.
  • Neither of Chris Moriarty's books have any sort of identifying pronouns in either the endorsement blurbs or the author bio. She has confirmed that that omission, along with the ambiguous first name, was a deliberate decision by the editors.
  • Several authors of Star Trek fiction—in addition to D. C. Fontana and A. C. Crispin mentioned above, there are J. A. Lawrence (Judith), M. S. Murdock (Melinda), J. M. Dillard (Jeanne), V. E. Mitchell (Vicki), L. A. Graf (a joint pseudonym for two women, Karen Rose Cercone and Julia Ecklar), S. D. Perry (Stephani), and S. N. Lewitt (Shariann).
  • E. M. (Edith Maude) Hull, author of The Sheik.
  • E. Nesbit
  • Katsura Hoshino, creator of D.Gray-Man, was thought to be male until 2008 when a cute girl with short hair appeared at a Convention. People had previously voiced suspicions that this might be the case, but it was still a surprise.
  • I. J. Parker, creator of Sugawara Akitada.
  • English historian C. V. Wedgwood (Cicely Veronica) Wedgwood.
  • 18th-century mathematician Sophie Germain had long correspondences with Legendre and Gauss under the pseudonym Auguste-Antoine le Blanc because she was worried she wouldn't be taken seriously if they knew she was a woman. She needn't have worried; both Gauss and Legendre were totally cool with it when they found out.
  • M(ary) V. Carey, later author in the Three Investigators series.
  • Britt Allcroft, producer of the original Thomas & Friends TV stories (series 1-5); has a gender-ambiguous name. She is often mistaken for male by people writing articles about the series.
  • S. Chuck Myers, author of The Complete Handbook of Coaching Wide Receivers, is really a woman named Susan Myers. The pen name is a run around the misogyny of some American Football fans, who would never trust a woman to coach football.
  • N. K. Jemisin, writer of the Inheritance Trilogy.
  • V. C. Andrews, or Cleo Virginia Andrews. Flowers in the Attic was supposed to be published under Virginia Andrews, but the publisher lied and told her there was printing mistake when the final cover showed the now-famous pen name. Interestingly, after Andrews' death in 1986, male horror novelist Andrew Neiderman became her ghostwriter.
  • T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)
  • J.A. Johnstone concealed her identity under two layers, first by writing under the name of her uncle William W. Johnstone for three years until admitting that he'd died, and then using a Moustache de Plume and carefully worded language on her website to conceal her gender.
  • Janet Asimov: To avoid revealing her gender, she originally used J. O. (Janet Opal) Jeppson and would continue to use it as a professional name, even as she began publishing other stories as "Janet Jeppson" or "Janet Asimov".
  • Charles Moulton: The pen name was originally used by Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston, but when his assistant Joye Murchison started writing for Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman (1942) she used the same pen name as him.
  • Russian writer Irina Koblova uses the masculine pen name Anton Orlov (initially at her publisher's insistence), and one of her novels actually uses this as a plot point.
  • Ukrainian novelist and translator Marko Vovchok, born Mariya Vilinskaya. The pen name alludes to cossack Mark the Wolf, a legendary ancestor of her first husband.
  • The editors of Marvel UK's The Avengers and The Mighty World of Marvel reprint titles in the seventies included Peter L. Skigley (actually Petra Skigley), Matt Softly (actually Maureen Softly), and Bernie Jaye (actually Bernadette Jakowski). These were, after all, boys' comics.
  • Enforced in the APA style for academic citations: initials have to be used for all authors' given names in order to avoid invoking conscious or unconscious sexism.
  • Part of the reason V. E. Schwab went by her initials when she started writing adult fiction was to conceal her gender from those less willing to try a book by a woman.

Inversions (Womb de Plume):

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mayotama in I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying uses a female persona to publish yaoi doujinshi, as the genre is dominated by female. His real name is Youta.
  • In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Umetaro Nozaki, a male, uses the decidedly feminine Pen Name "Sakiko Yumeno" (an anagram of his romance-loving sister Yumeko Nozaki's name) to publish Shoujo manga.
  • In Otomen Tachibana Juuta writes sparkly romance shoujo manga under the penname Sachihana Jewel and refuses to disclose his real identity even though the manga is hugely popular because he's afraid readers wouldn't take well to their shoujo manga being written by a man. He goes as far as crossdressing whenever he needs to appear as Sachihana.
    • There's also his favorite mangaka, Mira-sensei (short for "Mirage") who dresses, speaks, and behaves like a classic '70s shoujo manga character, for the same reason as Juuta. His motto is "Because we're professionals!"
  • In the Yaoi series Sensitive Pornograph romance mangaka Sono Hanasaki isn't exactly pretending to be a woman, but given the genre he writes, his feminine sounding name, and his feminine appearance many people just assume he is, and he doesn't exactly hurry to correct them.
  • The Unpopular Mangaka and the Helpful Onryo-san: Since he's a Shoujo mangaka, Senai Yarou pretends to be a woman on Twitter (under the pen name Kirara Kiraboshi), but he has no idea how to act. Onryo-san takes over the account for him.
  • In Whispered Words, Norio Kazama writes Yuri Genre novels under the name Orino Masaka, which fans generally take to be a female name. In fact, that idea is part of why they sell and he's a bit reluctant to meet fans.

    Comic Books 
  • Walter of ClanDestine writes popular romance novels (starring a heroine named Vanessa with a serious case of the Cartwright Curse) under the pen name "Sabrina Bentley".
  • Wilbur Weston in Mary Worth writes an advice column under the title Ask Wendy.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Harry Potter Dangerverse, Sirius Valentine Black publishes romance novels under the penname Valentina Jett.

  • Ever Since Eve: Freddy's pal Mike McGillicuddy writes adventure fiction aimed at young girls. His publisher insists he write as "Mabel DeCraven".
  • Fletch: Irwin Fletcher's newspaper articles are credited to Jane Doe.
  • In Paperback Hero truck driver Jack Willis writes a romance novel and publishes under the name of his best friend, Ruby Vale.
  • Discussed in Venom (2018). After accusing Carlton Drake without presenting any evidence, Eddie Brock cannot get work as a journalist even if he agrees to write under a female pseudonym.

  • Cyan's father in The Amy Virus blogs about his daughter under his wife's name.
  • Artemis Fowl: Artemis, at least according to his inner monologue, has been writing romance novels under the name Violet Tsirblou since age ten, if not longer. Which is ironic considering that Artemis is usually a girl's name (although he takes some pride in this, having stated that for a male the name of a somewhat misandric goddess needs to be earned). However, he doesn't want his real name associated with them...
  • In Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince, romance novelist Felix Chesterton writes under his wife's name (Frances Wylton). Frances explains to Bree and Lori that he thought his work would do better under her name, but his secret was exposed by a persistent fan, and his sales actually increased.
  • Henry Fitzroy of the Blood Books writes romances under the pseudonym "Elizabeth Fitzroy." Since he's the bastard son of Henry VIII (and thus half-brother of Elizabeth I), he thinks that's pretty amusing.
  • Robert A. Heinlein has a fictional example based on his own real example. Colin Campbell of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is a professional writer doing romance under a female pen name.
  • Implied with Iriadne Comb-Buttworthy, who writes trashy romance novels in the Discworld novel Unseen Academicals, and who Glenda thinks has a name that "looks suspiciously like an anagram". It's not revealed in the text, but it's almost an anagram of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler...
  • In Dr. Jackson's Diary, the terrible romance novels that the base infirmary's nurses like to read are written by none other than General Hammond under the pen name Jennifer DeCourcey. Jack later convinces Daniel to parody the flowery writing style of the novels in a presentation as a prank, which fails when neither can keep a straight face.
  • Played With in P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster series: Bingo Little tells his uncle that Rosie M. Banks is Bertie's pen name, but the real author is, in fact, a woman. Played Straight in Thank You, Jeeves with a passing mention of one Freddy Oaker, "who does tales of pure love for the weeklies under the pen-name of Alicia Seymour".
  • In Joan Hess's Strangled Prose, Douglas Twiller not only writes steamy romance novels under the pseudonym "Azalea Twilight", but has his wife pose as Azalea for public appearances. This is as much a way to shield his reputation as a professor of literature as to guard his gender.
  • The Stormlight Archive: In Oathbringer, one of Jasnah's Veristitalian colleagues is revealed to be an elderly male baker who publishes philosophical and scientific treatises under a female pen name. Justified because the Vorin Church's strict gender roles forbid men from learning to read or write.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Blackadder episode "Ink and Incapability", the protagonist writes Edmund: A Butler's Tale under the name Gertrude Perkins, because everyone wants books by women nowadays. He claims that Ann Radcliffe, Jane Austen, and Dorothy Wordsworth are all men, Austen being an "a huge Yorkshireman with a beard like a rhododendron bush". "James Boswell is the only real woman writing at the moment, and that's just because she wants to get inside [Samuel] Johnson's britches."
  • Jameson Rook (the male protagonist of Richard Castle's Nikki Heat novels) secretly writes romance novels under the pen name "Victoria St. Clair".
  • Drake & Josh: In the pilot, Josh writes an advice column for the school paper as 'Miss Nancy'. He insists he has to put on a woman's dress to be able to write.
  • In the Hart to Hart episode "Hart's Desire," an elderly man writes romance novels under a female pen name. When he wins an award, he asks Jennifer to impersonate him. Naturally, she gets kidnapped by a Loony Fan who thinks he's the hero of one of "her" novels.
  • In Himitsu No Hanazono the four brothers work under one female name to publish their shoujo manga.
  • On Just Shoot Me!, Dennis Finch writes the advice column for Blush under the name Miss Pretty.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: Mick Rory writes smutty romance novels under the pen name Rebecca Silver. At some point, he even has his friend Charlie pretend to be Rebecca Silver at a romance convention while pretending to be her bodyguard.
  • In Neighbours, Philip Martin wrote romance novels under the name Philippa Martinez.
  • Sgt. Baldocchi in Brazilian soap opera Uga Uga writes romance novels under the pseudonym "Laura Love". The other reason he cannot use his real name is that he's a fugitive who cannot clear his name because the real culprit is too dangerous.
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Pink Ranger Amy is shocked to learn that Yuu Aoyagi, author of her favorite Shoujo manga Love Touch, is actually a young man named Shinya Tsukouchi. In fact, the reason Shinya met Amy in person is that he wanted her to "play" Aoyagi in order to meet with a terminally ill fan.

  • Lennox-Brown in The Men from the Ministry briefly answered an agony column on staff magazine using a pen name "Aunt Eveling" since he and the editor agreed that woman's advice are more acceptable.
  • In one of his monologues on the BBC radio show My Word!, Frank Muir describes filling in for the Dear Deirdre advice column in the local paper, because "Deirdre" got his beard caught in the glass-washing machine in the pub after rugby practice. Again. In another, Muir says he's writing a romance novel under the name Deborah Horseland (which should keep him ahead of Barbara Cartland).

    Video Games 
  • In AkaSeka, Murasaki Shikibu is genderflipped, with this being the explanation for the obviously feminine name that he has. Though his real name, Fujiwara no Kaoru, isn't exactly what one would call masculine.

    Visual Novels 
  • In ef - a fairy tale of the two., Hiro Hirono, a 17-year-old male who is a professional mangaka, writes under the pen name Nagi Shindou, claiming to be female. Given that his work is Shoujo, it's understandable.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner - Strong Bad declared, in the sbemail "Secret identity", that he uses the name Cara Carabowditbowdit when writing articles for a popular women's magazine.

    Real Life 
  • This sort of thing generally happens to male novelists who want to write romance novels.
  • Almost all of Yoshiki Hayashi's more heavily sexual lyrics are under the name "Hitomi Shiratori." Specifically, "Stab Me In The Back," "Orgasm," and "Standing Sex" are all credited to "her."
  • Michael Hardcastle wrote books about football for boys. He also wrote books for girls about horses, but under a woman's name so they wouldn't think the books were aimed at boys.
  • Robert A. Heinlein wrote romance and true confession stories under a number of feminine pseudonyms, sometimes using his wife Virginia's name for the purpose.
  • The young children's author Martin Waddell wrote his earlier YA books, which often have female protagonists, under the name Catherine Sefton. He now writes YA under his own name as well.
  • L. Frank Baum wrote romances under a female pseudonym.
  • The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries: Both the original series and its spinoff Southern Ladies Mysteries are written by Dean James under the pseudonym Miranda James.
  • Both male and female writers wrote Nancy Drew and The Dana Girls novels under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
  • Accidental example: One of Terry Pratchett's early books, Equal Rites, was adapted for BBC Radio's Woman's Hour. Given the book's pro-feminist Jackie Robinson Story subject matter, many listeners assumed the author was in fact a woman named "Terri Pratchett".
  • The poet Fiona MacLeod (William Sharp).
  • Tim Pratt, the author of The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl, wrote his Marla Mason fantasy series as T.A. Pratt.
  • Dan Brown's first book was a toilet volume called 187 Men To Avoid, written under the name Danielle Brown.
  • Zigzagged with Michael Grant, K. A. Applegate's husband. He co-wrote several of the Animorphs, Remnants and Everworld books under his wife's (pen)name before starting the Gone series uner his own name. Which means he was writing books under her Moustache de Plume.
  • Inverted Trope: Michael Thomas Ford wrote the Circle of Three series as Isobel Bird. He's said it was because he was trying to keep his YA work and his adult work separate, but the fact that the series is about three teenage girls studying the very female-oriented religion of Wicca might have had something to do with it.
  • Joyce Kilmer, author of Trees, was a man. His full name was Alfred Joyce Kilmer. This also counts as a Gender-Blender Name, as "Joyce" was originally a man's name and (very rarely) is still given as one.
  • Benjamin Franklin's first foray into newspaper writing was done under the pseudonym, and indeed the persona, of the fictional widow "Silence Dogood". In penning his letters as Silence, he wasn't so much hiding his gender as concealing the fact that he was a sixteen-year-old kid.
  • Dan Ross, another romance novelist, used several female pseudonyms, most notably (for tropers) that of Marilyn Ross, under which he wrote novels for the Dark Shadows franchise.
  • To get some money, thriller and comic writer Mike Carroll wrote a few chick-lit romance novels under the name Jaye Carroll.
  • Ilona Andrews is the pen name for husband and wife writing team Ilona and Gordon Andrews.
  • L.A. Meyer, aka Louis A. Meyer, author of the Bloody Jack series qualifies, although he didn't really work to keep his gender a secret. Still he deserves bonus points because the title character Jacky passes herself off as a man whenever necessary and he's doing the reverse to a small degree to write about her.
  • Decidedly masculine-named Ozaki Tokutarō, known in the late-modern Japanese literature scene as Ozaki Kōyō (meaning "red leaf"), of The Golden Demon fame. His followers followed suit, seemingly creating a Theme Naming convention of feminine pen names with poetic meanings about nature: Oguri (later Katō) Isoo became Oguri Fūyō ("wind and leaf"), Izumi Kyōtarō became Izumi Kyōka ("mirror flower"), Tayama Rokuya → Tayama Katai ("flower bag"), Tokuda Sueo → Tokuda Shūsei ("autumn sound") and Yanagawa Tsurayuki → Yanagawa Shun'yō ("spring leaf").
  • An associate of Ozaki Kōyō above was the masculine-named Yamada Taketarō who became Yamada Bimyō ("beautiful").
  • Similarly, Kathryn Wesley is the pen name for husband and wife Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
  • Mitch Larson's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episodes are credited to M.A. (to be read as Mary-Anne or some such) Larson as his agent thought that his work on the show would conflict with his writing for Symbionic Titan and his history of boy-oriented cartoons. Larson has decided to use M.A. as his permanent pen name.
  • Jessica Blair and Hannah Cooper are pseudonyms of the English writer Bill Spence. This ended up making the news on various UK newspapers due to the perceived 'odd' situation of an 80-year-old male writer writing romance novels under a female pseudonym.
  • Tara Samms is an odd example; it's a pseudonym used by Stephen Cole for some of his Doctor Who work, but Doctor Who spin-off fiction is a male-to-gender-neutral market, so the gender of the pseudonym isn't particularly relevant. It does, however, indicate the work is going to be more "psychological" than works under Cole's own name. (It also, at least intially, meant his name didn't appear again in anthologies he was editing.)
  • Poppy Z. Brite is another unusual case. Brite is a transgender man but began writing and publishing before he was fully out as such. He now goes by Billy Martin but continues to use Poppy Z. Brite as his professional name. To add an extra layer, "Poppy" was already a pseudonym.
  • Russian children's writer and poet Tim Sobakin would sign some of his works as Nika Bosmit, mostly as a joke. (Tim Sobakin is itself a pseudonym for Andrey Ivanov, though.)
  • Grigori Chkhartishvili, best known as Boris Akunin, had published some books as Anna Borisova, as an experiment.
  • Carmen Mola, a highly acclaimed Spanish thriller writer was revealed to be the pen name of three male writers when they accepted an award in person.
  • The Argentinian comic-book writer Armando Fernández assumed the pen name Virginia Lang to write a romantic comic named "Teenagers", inspired by the some of the daily experiences from his then teenage daughter.
  • The famous Brazilian writer Nelson Rodrigues used the name "Suzana Flag" in the 40's when writing newspaper columns of melodramatic stories about love and cheating before his name became popular, both because he didn't want to sign them due to the censoring of the time and because the editors wanted a foreign name to attract attention from the public. Suzana's columns became immensely popular — eventually being enough to be turned into seven novels — to the point a reader sent a love letter wanting to meet her (Nelson sent a response saying Flag was married). Rodrigues also used another female pseudonym, Myrna, this one also answering letters from lovestruck readers in newspapers.

Alternative Title(s): Mustache De Plume