Monday, June 2, 2014

10 Famous Authors You Didn't Know Were Pseudonyms

Author JK Rowling caused a bit of a stir when it was discovered she published a mystery novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. But she's not alone. In fact, hundreds of successful authors used pseudonyms. Many of them became so successful that their pseudonyms are more well-known than their real names. Here are ten authors you might not have known were pen names.

John Le Carre'
1. John Le Carre
Real name: David John Moore Cornwell
Cornwell was a member of MI6, the British foreign-intelligence service, when he began writing novels. Foreign Office officers are forbidden to publish under their own names, so he wrote novels under John Le Carre (John the Square in French). Eventually, he quit MI6, but his writing career flourished.

2. Stan Lee
Real name: Stanley Martin Lieber
When Leiber started writing comics, he expected it to be just a stop on his way to a career writing literary fiction. He didn't want to affect his future career, so that's why he took his first name and made it two: Stan Lee. Ultimately, the comic book thing ended up working out better.

Toni Morrison
3. Toni Morrison
Real name: Chloe Anthony Wofford
On her first novel, she used her nickname "Toni" (from her baptismal name, Anthony) and Morrison (the last name of her ex-husband) to create her pen name, Toni Morrison. To this day, she regrets her pseudonym and wishes she had published under her real name.

4. Mark Twain
Real name: Samuel Langhorne Clemens
When Clemens was 27, he signed his first story "Mark Twain." The name is a pun based on his days working on a steamboat. When testing the depth of water, crewman would often shout "mark twain," which meant six feet. He kept the name throughout his career.

5. E. L. James
Real name: Erika Leonard
Erika Leonard originally posted her Twilight fan fiction story Master of the Universe under the nickname Snowqueens Icedragon. When it became popular enough, she changed the lead character's names and published it as Fifty Shades of Grey with the pseudonym E.L. James, based on the initials of her first and last name and a generic last name.

6. Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Real name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
In 1856, Dodgson first published a poem under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, and went on to achieve success with Alice in Wonderland. The source of his pen name is complex, so I'll quote it straight from Wikipedia: This pseudonym was a play on his real name; Lewis was the anglicised form of Ludovicus, which was the Latin for Lutwidge, and Carroll an Irish surname similar to the Latin name Carolus, from which comes the name Charles. The transition went as follows: "Charles Lutwidge" translated into Latin as "Carolus Ludovicus". This was then translated back into English as "Carroll Lewis" and then reversed to make "Lewis Carroll". He likes to make things difficult.

7. Dr. Seuss
Real name: Theodor Geisel
While at Dartmouth, Geisel was caught drinking gin with some friends in his dorm room. As a result, the dean ordered him to stop all extracurricular activities, including writing for the college humor magazine, The Jack-O-Lantern. To keep writing for the magazine, Geisel began submitting it with the pen name "Seuss." Later, when he became a successful cartoonist and author, he added "Dr" to his name.

8. Ayn Rand
Real name: Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum
Rosenbaum was born in Russia, but moved to the US to pursue her writing. She adopted the surname Rand, a contraction of her birth surname, and the first name Ayn from the Hebrew word "ayin," meaning "eye." She went on to achieve literary success with such works as Atlas Shrugged.

9. George Orwell
Real name: Eric Arthur Blair
Blair lived as a tramp and wrote Down and Out in Paris and London about his experiences. He wanted to avoid embarrassment to his family, so he adopted the last name "Orwell" from the River Orwell, and George because (as he put it) "it is a good round English name." He continued to write as Orwell in his writing, including the novels Animal Farm and 1984.

10. Anne Rice
Real name: Howard Allen Frances O'Brien-Rice
Rice was named after her father Howard, and she hated the masculine name. On her first day of school, she told everyone her name was "Anne," a name she liked better. Her name was legally changed in 1947, and her last name Rice came from her husband, Stan Rice. When she began writing work like The Vampire Lestat, the name followed.

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