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Pen Name

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"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."
Gore Vidal, Palimpsest

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 successful 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. See also House Pseudonym.


  • Apollo C. Vermouth (Paul McCartney)
  • Andrew Clements (Hanne Turk)
  • Anne Onymous (not yet revealed)
  • Arthur Francis (Ira Gershwin)
  • Avi (Edward Irving Wortis)
  • B. Traven (not yet revealed, assumed to have been Ret Marut or Otto Feige (Who may be the same person)). Virtually every detail of Traven's life has been disputed and hotly debated.
  • Bab (William Schwenck Gilbert, when writing and illustrating humorous poetry later published as "The Bab Ballads")
  • 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)
  • Carlo Collodi (Carlo Lorenzini)
  • Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr—also used his own name).
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  • Cassandra Clare (Judith Lewis)
  • 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 Moulton (William Moulton Marston and Joye Murchison)
  • 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).
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  • Emily Rodda (Jennifer Rowe)
  • Ezra Jack Keats (Jacob Ezra Katz - he even legally changed his name over to his pen name in 1947.)
  • Flann O'Brien (Brian O'Nolan) - who also published under the name "Myles na gCopaleen" and numerous once-off pseudonyms.
  • G.A. McKevett (Sonja Massie)
  • George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
  • Fred (Frédéric Othon Théodore Aristidès)
  • George Orwell (Eric Blair)
  • George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin de Francueil)
  • Gerald Wiley (Ronnie Barker)
  • Hergé (Georges Remi)
  • Isaac Asimov
    • Many readers assumed his name was an exotic pseudonym for someone with a boring name like Jack Smith, creating an Inverted example.
    • The Early Asimov: After the story "Trends", Dr Asimov describes the disagreement between himself and John W. Campbell over whether he should use an anglo-saxon pseudonym to make it easier for audiences to read/spell his name. Dr Asimov was firmly against the idea, and Campbell didn't raise the subject when he agreed to publish "Trends".
    • The Sensuous Dirty Old Man was published under the pseudonym Dr. "A" because he was parodying The Sensuous Woman (by "J") and The Sensuous Man (by "M").
    • Hilariously, he did use the very ordinary "Paul French" as a pseudonym when he wrote the Lucky Starr series, as he wanted to have them turned into a TV series but didn't trust Hollywood not to mess things up.
  • Jack Campbell (John Hermy)
  • Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg)
  • Jack Yeovil (Kim Newman)
  • James Herriot (James Alfred Wight)
  • Jean Paul (Jean Paul Friedrich Richter)
  • J. E. Mand ("S. O. Meone") (Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as playwright)
  • Jill Churchill (Janice Young Brooks)
  • Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
  • Joachim Ringelnatz (Hans Böttcher)
  • Joe Hill (Joseph Hillstrom King)
  • John Twelve Hawks (as of yet unknown)
  • Jonathan Ryder (Robert Ludlum)
  • Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Nalecz Konrad Korzeniowski)
  • Joseph Terry (Joey D'Auria)
  • Kenny Everett (Maurice Cole)
  • Kim Harrison (Dawn Cook)
  • Laura Childs (Gerry Schmitt)
  • 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)
  • Martin Nodell - The co-creator of Alan Scott (the first Green Lantern), went by "Mart Dellon" because according to him, "Comics were a forbidden literature, culturally unacceptable. It wasn't something you were proud of".
  • Mercedes Wainwright - Nigella Lawson. Part of her production as a journalist (mostly for magazines) was written under a pseudonym.
  • Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) (also a stage name)
  • Monkey Punch (Kazuhiko Kato)
  • 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)
  • Olivia (Dorothy Bussy)
  • Olivia Jaimes (not yet revealed)
  • 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'). During his lifetime, he would sometimes use this nickname for signing autographs with an occasional illustration of his characters. (such as this autograph featuring a drawing of Unico over his name)
  • 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.
  • Peyo (Pierre Culliford)
  • Philalethes (King John of Saxony)
  • P. Howard (Jenő Rejtő)
  • 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)
  • Sarban (John William Wall)
  • Sax Rohmer, creator of Fu Manchu (Arthur Henry Ward)
  • Shuzilow.HA (Shūjirō Hamakawa)
  • Silence Dogood (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Lieber)
  • Stendhal (Henri Beyle)
  • SUEZEN (Fumio Iida)
  • 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)
  • Thomas Luke (Graham Masterton)
  • T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon)
  • Vercors (Jean Marcel Bruller)
  • Vic Reeves (Jim Moir)
  • Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet)
  • wildbow (John C. McRae)
  • Possibly William Shakespeare, according to several (unproven) theories.
  • Dr. Winston O'Boogie (John Lennon)
  • Wolfman Jack (Bob Smith)
  • YmoH.S (Hitoshi Sakimoto)
  • YU2 (Yuji Naka)
  • Yukio Mishima (Hiraoka Kimitake)
  • For the 1994 Chuck Jones short "Chariots of Fur", several of the animators used pen names because they were still under contract to Disney.
    • Bill Snelgrove (Will Finn)
    • Claude Raynes (Eric Goldberg)
    • Irene Arkin (Nik Ranieri)
    • Margaret Trudeaux (Joe Haidar)
  • George Gomez (Jorge Alfredo Gomez Y Marth)
  • Student (of t-distribution fame) was the pen name of William Sealy Gosset.

Sometimes one person uses multiple pen names:

  • Allan Devon, Christopher Golato, Mark Rowane (Sidney Sheldon)
  • 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. HaHa 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)
  • Emily Rodda, Mary-Anne Dickinson (Jennifer Rowe) — Later reprints of her books that had been published under the Dickinson name used the Rodda name instead.
  • Evan Hunter, Ed McBain, Richard Marsten (Salvatore Lombino) note 
  • 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 Rollins, James Clemens (James Paul Czajkowski)
  • James Tiptree, Jr., Raccoona Sheldon (Alice Bradley Sheldon)
  • J. K. Rowling, Robert Galbraith (Joanne Rowling)
  • Johannes de Silentio, Johannes Climacus, Anti-Climacus, Victor Eremita, Constantin Constantius, Vigilius Haufniensis, Nicolaus Notabene, Hilarius Bookbinder, etc. (some of Søren Kierkegaard's many pseudonyms)
  • JT LeRoy, Emily Frasier, Speedie (Laura Albert)
  • 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)
  • Mœbius, Gir (Jean Giraud)
  • Robert Jordan, Reagan O'Neil, Jackson O'Reilly (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)
    • "Mallory T. Knight" (Bernhardt J. Hurwood) is very probably a parodic reference to that pen name - the author wrote mostly parodies anyway.
  • Emma Lathen (Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Hennisart)
  • Erin Hunter is the pen name of seven authors and editors of Warrior Cats, Seeker Bears and Survivor Dogs (Victoria Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland, Gillian Philip, Inbali Iserles, and Erica Sussman).
  • There is a theory that Euclid was actually one of these.
  • 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
  • Charles Ogden (various authors)
  • Ilona Andrews (Ilona and Andrew Gordon)
  • K. A. Applegate is credited on the covers of Animorphs, Everworld, and Remnants — actually co-written by K. A. Applegate and Michael Grant
  • 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 Jay Clarke, along with his various collaborators, whose thrillers pit the Mounties against serial killers. Clarke is a Canadian lawyer whose specialty is criminal insanity.
  • 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.
  • Manning Coles was the pen name of Adelaide Frances Oke Manning and Cyril Henry Coles.
  • The Economist generally do not name the author of their articles, Columnists are instead assigned a relevant pseudonym according to the author's area of expertise, eg. Bunyan for the Asian Correspondent, and Lexington for the US Correspondent. Some of the more established pseudonyms have been carried on by multiple authors.
  • James S. A. Corey is Ty Franck plus Daniel Abraham (who himself used "M.L.N. Hanover" for another work). The first and last name are taken from Abraham's and Franck's middle names, as The Other Wiki knows.
  • Jack McKinney was used by the team of James Luceno and the late Brian Daley, most significantly for the Robotech Novelizations and Television Tie In Novels. They also co-wrote an original series, the Black Hole Travel Agency. Luceno reused the pen name to write several Robotech interquel novels in the Nineties after Daley's death.

Fictional examples:

Alternative Title(s): Pseudonym, Nom De Plume


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