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
- Ellery Queen - Frederic Dannay (1905-1982) and Manfred Bennington Lee (1905-1971)
- James S. A. Corey - Daniel Abraham (1969-) and Ty Franck (1969-)
- George Eliot - Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880)
- George Sand - Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin (1804-1876)
- Madeline Brent - Peter O'Donnell (1920-2010)
- Jessica Sterling - Hugh C. Rae (1935-1914)
- J.D. Robb - Nora Roberts (1950-)
- Mark Twain - Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910)
- J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith - Joanne Rowling (1965-)
- Jacques Turbin - Charles Keller (1843-1913)
- Vladimir Ilyin - Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin (1870-1924)
- João Antonio Andreoni - André João Antonil (1650-1716)
- Robert Frame - Sir James Steuart (1712-1780)
- A. Dettonville - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
- Federal Farmer - Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794)
- George Orwell - Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950)
- Nimrod - Charles James Apperly (1777-1843)
- Currer Bell - Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)
- Ellis Bell - Emily Bronte (1880-1848)
- Acton Bell - Anne Bronte (1820-1849)
- Himself - Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)
- Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
- Mr Lin Huan - Ben She.Yi Ming
- Carlo Lorenzini - Carlo Collodi (1826-1890)
- Nellie Bly - Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (1864-1922)
- Anthoine Vasset - Claude Hardy (1598-1678)
- Paul Cain and Peter Ruric - George Caryl Sims (1902-1966)
- Honorius Philoponus - Caspar Plautius
- Clive Hamilton - C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
- Seigneur des Accords - Etienne Tabourot (1549-1590)
- V.F. Calverton - George Goetz (1900-1940)
- Claude Farrere - Frédéric-Charles Bargone (1876-1957)
- Robert Markham - Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)
- Richard Allas - Eric Mowbray Knight (1897-1943)
- Anton Reiser - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
- Fred Deltor - Frederico Antonio Carasso (1899-1969).
- Frank Forester - Henry William Herbert (1807-1858)
- Sperontes - Johann Sigismund Scholze (1705-1750)
- Geoffrey Crayon - Irving Washington (1783-1859)
- G.A. Sekton - George Augustus Nokes (1867-1948)
- Ross Macdonald - Kenneth Millar (1915-1983)
- Gustavus Selenus - Augustus the Younger, Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg (1579-1666)
- Didymus Mountain - Thomas Hill (1528-1574)