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Pseudonyms

A pseudonym is defined in The Free Dictionary as “a fictitious name, especially a pen name.” One can infer from “especially, a pen name” that people generally think of a pseudonym as a fictitious name used by an author, also known as a nom de plume. In common usage, a stage name is used for a person in the performing arts. Here are pseudonyms that well-known writers have used as a pen name or nom de plume:

The Brontë Sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Ann, wanted their works to be judged on merit so they chose to use Currer Bell, Ellis Bell and Acton Bell as pseudonyms. It was very easy to figure out who was who when their real identities came to light.

“Silas Marner” author Mary Ann Evans took two men’s name — George Eliot — to get her works taken seriously. French author Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin took a liking to George, too. She chose the pen name George Sand.

Louisa May Alcott used the pen name A.M. Barnard. No one seems to know exactly why but since she also wrote under the pseudonym of Flora Fairfield, she didn’t seem to mind people knowing a woman wrote her words.

Boz is a well-known pseudonym used by English author, Charles Dickens. CharlesDickensInfo.com says that it was more of a nickname that evolved this way: “One of his favorite characters in Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield was called Moses. Moses became Boses which became Boz.”

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is better known as Lewis Carroll, the author of “Alice in Wonderland.” That one came from using different forms of Charles and Lutwidge to arrive at Carroll and Lewis and then the names were reversed.

On his website, Stephen King has a list of novels he wrote under the pen name Richard Bachman.

J.K. Rowling has a website for her pen name, Robert Galbraith.

Daniel Handler published an entire series under the very creative name of one of its characters, Lemony Snicket.

A nom de guerre is a different sort of pseudonym, having to do with war and sometimes political activism. Originally, they were given to French soldiers to identify the regions they were from. They were also used to protect the families of military members from harm in the event of capture. A nom de guerre may be taken to make a statement. Thus, you could call Amiri Baraka the nom de plume or the nom de guerre of American poet LeRoi Jones, who was actually born Everett LeRoi Jones but went by his middle name until he switched to Amiri Baraka.


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