Why & Methods to Use a Pen Identify

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Authors have used pen names for hundreds of years, and it’s possible you’ve a learn a e-book by an writer utilizing a pseudonym. However what precisely is a pen title, and the way and why do authors use them?

What’s a pen title?

A pen title, typically known as a pseudonym or a nom de plume, is a reputation a author makes use of as a substitute of their very own.


For instance, Jane Eyre writer Charlotte Brontë initially printed her work beneath the title Currer Bell. Her sisters Emily and Anne did the identical beneath the names Ellis and Acton Bell, respectively. 

Why do authors use pen names?

To hide their id

Some writers use a nom de plume to cloak their id. Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, world-famous writer of books like My Good Pal and The Mendacity Lifetime of Adults, says her anonymity is important to her life as a author. It additionally makes her a compelling, and mysterious, determine. Ferrante’s id has by no means been revealed, and little is thought about her life.


John Le Carré is the pen title of David Cornwell. Cornwell, whose work contains Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Fixed Gardener, and The Little Drummer Woman, labored within the British secret service and secret intelligence service earlier than turning into an writer. Foreigh service officers are forbidden to publish beneath their very own names, so David Cornwell turned John Le Carré.  

To honor somebody vital to them

Others might select a pseudonym to pay homage to somebody vital of their life. Creator and tutorial bell hooks, whose title is Gloria Jean Watkins, selected her pen title as a tribute to her great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.

To discover new types, genres, or audiences

Some established authors will publish beneath a pseudonym after they wish to dip into different genres, give themselves the liberty to discover new concepts and types, or keep away from coloring readers’ notion of the work. 


For instance, queen of thriller writing Agatha Christie printed a handful of novels beneath the title Mary Westmacott to permit herself discover her creativeness extra freely. Joyce Carol Oates did the identical together with her e-book Lives of the Twins, which she printed beneath the title Rosamond Smith, to “escape from my very own id,” however reception to the change was not warmly acquired.

To signify collective authorship

Typically a pseudonym is used when multiple author contributes to a piece, often known as a collective pseudonym. Dungeons & Dragons novels are printed beneath the title T.H. Lain, a collective pseudonym for the 9 totally different authors who’ve contributed to the sequence.

To keep away from discrimination

You’ll additionally discover that many ladies have printed beneath pen names so as to be taken significantly or be printed in any respect. Middlemarch and Silas Marner writer George Eliot was truly named Mary Ann Evans and Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke, who wrote Out of Africa, printed beneath the title Isak Dinesen.

To keep away from being confused with different writers

A author with a standard title—James Baldwin, for instance—may select a singular nom de plume to keep away from being confused with one other author (on this case a really well-known one), movie star, or public determine.

How to decide on a pen title

Take into consideration why you wish to publish beneath a distinct title. What that you must accomplish along with your pseudonym will inform the way you select it.


In case you merely wish to keep away from confusion with one other author, think about using initials or a detailed variation. So in case your title is James Baldwin, attempt Jim Baldwin or J.R. Baldwin.


If that you must conceal your id altogether, like David Cornwell (a.ok.a John le Carré) it is best to select a reputation very totally different from your personal. A Sandra Jones who wants to hide her id ought to go along with one thing extra like Erica Montgomery than Susan Jones.


Select rigorously if you wish to pay tribute to somebody vital in your life. Your grandmother might not need you publishing slasher novels beneath her title, however she could also be snug with you utilizing a variation.

Earlier than you select a pen title

  1. Google it to be sure you received’t be overshadowed by one other author, an actor, a politician, or different public determine with the identical title.
  2. In case you’re utilizing the title of a buddy or member of the family as a approach to honor their affect in your life, test to see in the event that they’re OK with this.
  3. Sit with it for a couple of days to see if it feels proper. Write in on a Submit-It and stick it to your pc, write it on a white board or on the entrance of your journal.

Methods to use your pen title

In case you’re going to make use of a pen title, use it persistently. Contemplate it a full id, so decide what you’ll publish beneath this new id. Maybe you’re a journalist on the crime beat by day and your byline reads Leticia Smith. By night time, you write graphic fantasy novels beneath the title Lana Winston. In case you run a weblog about fantasy novels or write evaluations of graphic novels, chances are you’ll wish to publish them beneath Lana Winston. 


That being mentioned, chances are you’ll be like Dean Koontz and wish to create a number of pen names so you may occupy a lot of genres and varieties (Koontz has written beneath greater than a dozen names). In case you select to go this route, think about that you may dilute the ability of your work by spreading it out throughout a number of names.


You may be a once-published graphic novelist Lana Winston and a once-published poet Sally Woods, or you may be Lana Winston who’s printed each a graphic fantasy novel and a e-book of prose poems.

Well-known authors who use pen names

Pen Identify Actual Identify
Maya Angelou Marguerite Annie Johnson
Acton Bell Anne Brontë
Currer Bell Charlotte Brontë
Ellis Bell Emily Brontë
Lewis Caroll Charles Dodgson
Diablo Cody Brook Busey
Joseph Conrad  Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Isak Dinesen Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke, typically known as Karen Blixen
Egor Don Eugene Gordon
George Eliot Mary Ann Evans
Elena Ferrante  Id unknown
O. Henry William Sydney Porter
bell hooks Gloria Jean Watkins
E.L. James Erika Mitchell 
T.H. Lain Phillip Athans, Cory Herndon, Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Stark, Johnny L. Wilson, Nate Levine, Murray J.D. Leeder, David Gross, Jess Lebow.
John le Carré David Cornwell
Stan Lee Stanley Martin Lieber
Molière Jean Baptiste Poquelin
George Orwell Eric Arthur Blair
Françoise Sagan Françoise Quoirez
Saki Hector Hugh Munro
George Sand Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin
Sapphire Ramona Lofton
Dr. Seuss Theodor Seuss Geisel
Lemony Snicket Daniel Handler
Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Voltaire François-Marie Arouet


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