Thursday, January 31, 2008

What's in a Name?

Recently I was ruminating on the bizarre practice of famous authors writing under pseudonyms, pen names, nom de plumes, whatever you want to call them. I was trying to think of possible reasons for doing this. Do they find themselves so closely associated with a certain genre that fans would be disappointed to read something else? During the 18th century pen names were used if the writing was controversial. Ben Franklin wrote as Silence Dogood, Alice Addertongue, amongst others. Of course some women wrote as men because of the social codes of the day—George Eliot for example (real name Mary Ann Evans) and George Sand (Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin—pen name seems a good idea in this case). I ran across another author that had eleven pseudonyms—seems a bit much. The popular young adult author Meg Cabot started a new series under the name Jenny Carroll. The first book just has the name Jenny Carroll but subsequent volumes said “from the popular author of the Princess Diaries”--sounds to me like Jenny Carroll wasn’t doing so well on her own. Here are a few current popular authors writing under pseudonyms: Janet Evanovich as Steffie Hall, Stephen King as Richard Bachman. Jayne Anne Krentz as Amanda Quick and others, Barbara Mertz as Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters, Eleanor Wilder as Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb, and Dean Koontz as Deanna Dwyer and K.R. Dwyer.

See if you can match up the real names with the pseudonyms below, check back next week for the answers:

Real Name:
Charles Dickens
Emily Bronte
Eric Arthur Blair
James Alfred Wight
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Agatha Christie

Howard Allen O'Brian

Mary Westmacott
Ellis Bell

George Orwell
Lewis Carroll
James Herriot
Anne Rice

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