Tag Archives: pen name

Pen Names

Authors throughout time have used pen names to keep their identity a secret or to make the reader’s focus more on the book and less on the person writing it. For example, Mark Twain, a well-known American writer, was born Samuel Clemens. He changed his name after working on a steamboat along the Mississippi River in Missouri. He actually gets the name ‘Mark Twain’ from a type of measurement that was used on the boats called a ‘twain’, which people would mark, hence his new name. His life on the river was very important to him and this is evident through his name change. Another reason writers change their names is because they are actually women looking to make it in the literary world. George Eliot, the author of Middlemarch, was actually Mary Ann Evans, born in England during the 1800s, who wanted people to take her work seriously. During that time, men had all the power and authority so it was only logical to take the name of a man. J.K. Rowling, the famous author of the Harry Potter series used the initial of her name Joanne, and made up the ‘K’ as she did not have a middle name. This was all done because she believed boys at the time wouldn’t want to read a book about magic written by a woman. Authors also use pen names to heighten the story they are telling and to make it more believable. I Am Number Four, a science-fiction novel about aliens (that description doesn’t do it justice, it is actually a very intriguing story) is written by Pittacus Lore. In the story, Lore is the ruler of the place where the aliens originate, Lorien. James Frey and Jobie Hughes are the actual authors, but props to them for incorporating more of the book to be apart of the reader’s imagination and the story overall. I also used to read a book as a child called The Name of This Book is Secret, written by Pseudonymous Bosch. The actual author of the series is still disputed. Dictionary.com defines ‘pseudonymous’ as “bearing a false or fictitious name.” Relates pretty well, doesn’t it? ‘Bosch’ may come from the artist Hieronymous Bosch, who is actually one of my favorites. Overall, authors use pen names for all sorts of reasons and some of those reasons can be quite interesting once you get to researching them.

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