Many writers use pen names. For some, it’s a matter of privacy. For others, a way to differentiate genres for readers. Then, there’s the old story of just picking a nifty, catchy name when your own doesn’t quite fit. Perhaps some literary agent decided on a marketable pen name if the writer’s given name was a tongue-stumbler. For whatever reasons, pen names are a time-honored tradition for many writers.
Here are a few interesting pen names, along with their more accurate translations. You might easily recognize many of these pen names. Others, well, maybe not so much.
Another famous columnist, Ann Landers, was actually Esther Pauline Friedman.
Mystery and short-story author Anthony Boucher was born William Anthony Parker White.
British author of the Arthur Crook crime novel series, known to readers as Anthony Gilbert, was actually Lucy Beatrice Malleson.
Ayn Rand was Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum.
The creator of Horatio Hornblower and The African Queen, known to readers as C. S. Forester, was better known to family and close friends as Cecil Smith.
Satirist Lazlo Toth was Don Novello in real life.
The famous British author Joseph Conrad was Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski.
Great detective writer, Ellery Queen, was actually two writers: Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee.
Romain Gary, French author, won the prestigious Prix Goncourt twice. Once under his own name and again under his pen name, Emile Ajar.
In real life, George Orwell was Eric Arthur Blair.
Certainly you knew that Lewis Carroll was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. You knew that, right?
Here’s something a bit easier. Mark Twain was Samuel Langhome Clemens. Well, maybe your weren’t sure about his middle name.
Science fiction author Murray Leinster was lesser-known as William Fitzgerald Jenkins.
And, of course, O. Henry was actually William Sydney Porter.