Pen Names of Writers in English Literature

Pen Names of Writers in English Literature

Pen Names of Writers in English Literature : If you have ever read a book and found yourself thinking that the style and way of writing seemed very familiar, it is possible that the book you are reading was actually written by your favorite author —only under a pen name.

Pen Names of Writers in English Literature

A pen name, also known as a nom de plume or a pseudonym, is an assumed name used by an author, in place of their own name.

Some authors write exclusively under their pen name, while others write under both their actual name and their pen name (or multiple pen names, in some cases).

But, why do authors use pen names? And how do they come up with the pen names they use?

While the answer for that varies from author to author, we have come up with a list of 8 famous authors who have used pen names, and the reasons behind their decision to forgo their real names on their books.

Mark Twain (real name Samuel Clemens):

It is a well-known fact that Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. It is said that Clemens got the name “Mark Twain” from his former job as a riverboat captain. The term, “Mark Twain”, is a river term that means “two fathoms,” or 12 feet. The sounding of “Mark Twain” on a riverboat meant that it was safe to navigate the water.

What is not so well known is the fact that Clemens also wrote under the names Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass, Sergeant Fathom, and W. Epaminondas Adrastus Blab.

It is said that Samuel Clemens chose to write under pen names as a way to have literary freedom.

It was also a way to protect his family from repercussions due to the content and opinions of the characters in his books.

Dr. Seuss (real name Theodor Seuss Geisel):

Theodor Seuss Geisel is famous worldwide for his children’s books, penned under the name “Dr. Seuss.”

Geisel first started using this pen name in college, after he was caught drinking by the Dean of the school, stripped of his position as editor of the Dartmouth college’s humor magazine, “Jack-o-Lantern,” and banned from writing for the magazine.

In order to trick the administration and continue writing for the magazine, Geisel adopted the name Dr. Theophrastus Seuss, which he later shortened to Dr. Seuss.

Geisel was not actually a doctor of any sort, having dropped out of the PhD program at Oxford.

The “Dr.” in his pen name was in honor of his father, who had hoped that Geisel would someday get his PhD. The “Seuss” came from Geisel’s middle name, which was also his mother’s maiden name.

While not nearly as famous as his “Dr. Seuss” pen name, Geisel also famously wrote under the names Theo LeSieg (Geisel spelled backwards) and Rosetta Stone.

George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair):

When author Eric Arthur Blair was ready to publish his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London, he was concerned that his family would be embarrassed by the stories of their time in poverty.

In order to protect them, he decided to adopt a pen name.

He chose the name George Orwell to reflect his deep love of England.

George is the patron saint of England, and Orwell was the name of a river where he loved to go sailing.

Lemony Snicket (real name Daniel Handler):

It is likely that most people cannot identify any books written by Daniel Handler.

However, one would be hard-pressed to find someone who has never heard of Lemony Snicket and his popular children’s series’ A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions.

It is said that Handler first adopted the pen name of Lemony Snicket when he was doing research for his first novel, Basic Eight. He needed to contact various right-wing organizations, but did not want them to have his real name. Thus, Lemony Snicket was born.

Stan Lee (real name Stanley Martin Lieber):

Debatably one of the most famous comic book writers in the world, Lieber originally made the decision to write under the name Stan Lee because he hoped to one day graduate to writing more serious literary work, and planned to save his real name for that.

Once it became apparent that he was destined to be known for his comic books, Lieber made the decision to legally change his name to Stan Lee.

Richard Bachman (real name Stephen King):

When King first started his writing career, it was a common belief in the publishing world that an author could only successfully release one book per year. In order to bypass this belief, King created the pseudonym “Richard Bachman,” so that he could release multiple books per year.

King ended up publishing seven novels under the name of Bachman, before the connection between his pen name and his real identity were discovered.

While King claims that he created his pen name in order to get away with releasing more books per year, it is said that he also wanted to see if “lightening could strike twice.”

He wondered if his writing talent alone could launch his Richard Bachman personality into as much fame as he had achieved under his own name.

Interestingly, though, the books he released under the name Richard Bachman did not gain success until it was publicly known that the books were King’s.

JK Rowling and Robert Galbraith (real name Joanne Rowling):

Now famous worldwide for her Harry Potter series, Rowling’s publishers were at first unsure if her target audience of pre-teen boys would accept stories about wizards that were written by a woman. For that reason, they encouraged her to use initials on the books instead of her first name.

Having no middle name, Rowling adopted the “K” from her grandmother’s name, Kathleen, and became known as J.K. Rowling.

What may surprise some, though, is that Rowling has been writing crime novels under yet another pen name: Robert Galbraith.

Rowling has said that she made the decision to write her crime novels under another pseudonym, so that she could freely write without having the pressure from being the author of the wildly successful Harry Potter books.

She liked the appeal of being able to create something completely different, and wanted her crime novels to stand (or fall) on their own merits.

Mary Westmacott (real name Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie):

Known as the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie created 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections during her impressive writing career.

However, what is unknown to many is the fact that she also wrote six romance novels under a pen name, Mary Westmacott, which she managed to keep secret for 20 years.

It is said that Christie adopted her pen name, so that she could more easily switch genres from mystery and crime to romance.

Pen Names of Writers in English Literature

There have been many major writers, critics, painters, illustrators, and engravers who have employed pen names for their literary works in English literature. Many English writers have used pen names in order to hide their real identity so that,  they could produce their literary works under pseudonyms or a pen names. A few writers adapted pen names on purpose. Here is a list of pen names and real names of writers and literary artists which would be useful for the student for the competitive exams and the reader who will find these pen names interesting and entertaining.


Sr. no Real Name Pen Name
1 Anne Winchilsea Ardelia
2 Elizabeth Rowe Philomela
3 Anne Steele Theodosia
4 Elizabeth Penrose Mrs. Markham
5 Hannah Cowley Anna Matilda
6 Mary Ann Evans George Eliot
7 Anne Bronte Acton Bell
8 Emily Bronte Ellis Bell
9 Charlotte Bronte Currer Bell
10 Mary Louisa Molesworth Ennis Graham
11 Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper Michael Field
12 Katharine Bradley Arran Leigh
13 Eleanor Fenn Anna Matilda and Mrs. Teachwell
14 Emily Eden ‘E.E.’
15 Caroline Clive ‘V’
16 Agatha Christi Mary Westmacott
17 Gwyneth Jones Ann Halam
18 Molly Keane M.J. Farrell
19 Doris Lessing Jane Sommers
20 Mary Challans Mary Renault
21 Hilda Doolittle ‘H.D.’
22 Ruth Rendel Barbara Vine
23 Ethel Richardson Henry Handel Richardson
24 Aurore Dupin George Sand
25 Sarah Smith Hesba Stretton
26 Alice Sheldon Tiptree
27 Cherry Grimm Cherry Wilder
28 Jane Wilde Speranza
29 Edith Harper Anna Wicham
30 Anna Gorenko Anna Akhmatova
31 Cecily Fairfield Dame Rebecca West
32 Katharine Burdekin Murray Constantine
33 Agatha Webster Cecil Home
34 Winifred Ellerman Bryher
35 William Makepeace Thackeray Michael Angelo Titmarsh
36 Christopher Smart Mrs. Midnight
37 James Thomson Bysshe Vanolis
38 Jacques-Anatole Francois Thibault Anatole France
39 John Galsworthy John Sinjohn
40 Peter Fleming Strix
41 Arthur Quiller-Couch ‘Q’
42 Cecil Day Lewis Nicholas Blake
43 Charles Dickens Boz
44 Robertson Davies Samuel Marchbanks
45 Douglas W. Jerrold “Q”
46 Jack Yeats ‘W’
47 John Wolcot Peter Pindar
48 Edward William  Iolo Marganwg
49 Ali Ahmad Said Adonis
50 Henry Brooks Adams Frances Snow Compton
51 William Hale White Mark Rutherford
52 Conrad Potter Aiken Samuel Jeake, Jr.
53 Anthony Burgess Joseph Kell
54 Robert William Buchanan Thomas Maitland
55 Hablot Knight Brown Phiz
56 George Douglas Brown Kennedy King
57 Osborne Henry Mavor James Bridie
58 Edward Bradley Cuthbert Bede
59 Charles Dodgson Lewis Carroll
60 Charles Bradlaugh Iconoclast
61 W. E. Aytoun and Theodore Martin Bon Gaultier
62 John Banville Benjamin Black
63 Kingsley Amis Robert Markham
64 Thomas Guthrie F. Anstey
65 John Middleton Murray, Jr. Richard Cowper and Collin Murray
66 Brian Procter Barry Cornwall
67 Cyril Connolly Palinurus
68 Paul Auster Paul Benjamin
69 Cecil Mercer Dornford Yates
70 Eric Arthur Blair George Orwell
71 Jeremy Prynne Pu-Ling-en
72 Daniel Nathan and Manford Lepofsky Ellery Queen
73 Johan Paul Richter Jean Paul
74 Hector Hugh Munroe Saki
75 Herman McNeile Sapper
76 Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Bosoalto Pablo Neruda
77 Sean O’Casey Sean O’Cathasaigh
78 Michael O’Donovan Frank O’Connor
79 Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire
80 Philip Klass William Tenn
81 Edward Thomas Edward Eastway
82 Peter Paterson Peter Terson
83 Samuel Langhorne Clemens Mark Twain
84 James Kenneth Stephen J.K.S
85 Kenneth Millar Ross MacDonald
86 Christopher Grieve Hugh MacDiarmid
87 Francis Mahony Father Prout
88 William Maginn Morgan O’Doherty
89 Louis MacNeice Louis Malone
90 William Sharp Fiona Macleod
91 Robert Merry Della Crusca
92 Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton Owen Meredith
93 Andre Maurois Emile Herzog
94 Theodore Martin Bon Gaultier
95 John Marston Kinsayder
96 Alberto Moravia Alberto Pincherie
97 Thomas Moore Thomas Little
98 David Moir ∆: ‘Delta’
99 Harry Frank Pat Frank
100 Theophilo Folengo Merlin Coccai
101 Jean Poquelin Moliere
102 James Mitchell Lewis Gibbon
103 Henry Yorke Henry Green
104 George Griffith-Jones George Griffith
105 Paul Barnett John Grant
106 Joan Marshall Kelsey John Grant
107 Sidney Luska Henry Harland
108 Friedrich Hardenberg Novalis
109 James Oliver Rigney, Jr. Robert Jordan
110 Anthony Hawkins Anthony Hope
111 Walter de la Mare Walter Ramal
112 Patrick Delany J.R.
113 Leonard Knapp Lester Del Rey
114 John Innes Mackintosh Stewart Michael Innes
115 Bruce Frederick Cummings W.N.P. Barbellion
116 Allen Curnow Whim Wham
117 Gary Armstrong Robert Edric
118 Derek Lindsay A.E. Ellis
119 Howard Melvin Fast E.V. Cunningham
120 John Campbell Don Stuart
121 Edward Cave Sylvanus Urban
122 Paul Anschel Paul Celan
123 George William Russell ‘Æ’
124 Nathan Weinstein Nathanael West
125 Gore Vidal Edgar Box
126 John Warren George Preston and William Lancaster
127 Charles Ferrar Artemas Ward
128 Henry Beyle Stendhal
129 Kenneth Bird Fougasse
130 Washington Irving Jonathan Oldstyle, Diedrich
131 Charles Maturin Dennis Jasper Murphy
132 Robert Weidmann Penini, or Pen
133 James Boswell The Hypochondrick
134 Dion Baucicault Lee Morton
135 Charles Stuart Calverley C.S.C.


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