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An Introduction to Pseudonyms and a List of Pen Names

In literature, a pseudonym is a pen name frequently used by authors to conceal their true identity. There is usually nothing sinister in this as there can be a host of reasons for using a pen name:

In the era of popular victorian crime fiction, women often wrote using masculine pen names because the genre was so male dominated. In contrast, men have frequently written under female pen names when writing romantic fiction, a female dominated genre.

As well as gender, a pen name might also be used to imply a writer is of a different nationality. I have done something similar myself in the past when writing for British periodicals. Because of my name, Pierre de la Mare, most people think I'm French. However, I am British, yet I saw my birth name as a handicap when approaching British publications, hence I wrote under the pseudonym "Peter Mills".

Of course, there are other reasons for using a pseudonym: Authors who write in a number of genres frequently adopt pen names so they don't confuse their readers (particularly so of writers active in both fiction and non-fiction). Professionals from other fields may wish to draw a line between their professional and literary efforts, such as scientists, mathematicians and business people. Politicians may use a pseudonym for similar reasons or to divorce themselves from controversial views which may be put forward in their writings. This might be particularly so of social activists in countries where freedom of speach is not permitted.

Sometimes the reason for using a pen name can be for simple marketing purposes. We now know the author behind Robinson Crusoe was Daniel Defoe, but the book was published as being by "Himself" (implying Robinson Crusoe). Historians believe Defoe wanted his book to be seen as a biographical travelogue, but it was a work of pure fiction.

In theory, using a pseudonym or pen name is a way of achieving anonymity. In reality, this is rarely achieved. Researchers have frequently attributed historical works written under pen names to individuels. Modern writers, when submitting a manuscript to a publisher, are usually required to include their legal name, so complete anonymity is rarely assured.

In no particular order, the following is a list of pseudonyms and the writers behind them. The first stated name for each is the pseudonym. I'll add further lists periodically, just type "pen names" into the site search box and any additions should show in the results.

List of Pen Names