Noun: a pen name, a pseudonym used by an author to conceal his or her identity.
Etymology: From the French, literally translated, “pen name.” Pronounced “nawn-duu-PLOOM.”
Throughout the centuries, many authors — the famous and obscure — have written using a pen name, if even for a short time before or after they gained popularity. Below is a list of some of the most notable authors (pen name followed by real name) — some that may prove surprising:
Richard Bachman – Stephen King
A. M. Barnard – Louisa May Alcott
Acton Bell – Anne Bronte
Currer Bell – Charlotte Bronte
Ellis Bell – Emily Bronte
Edgar Box – Gore Vidal
Boz – Charles Dickens
Lewis Carroll – Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Joseph Conrad – Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
Isak Dinesen – Karen Blixen
George Eliot – Mary Ann Evans
William Elliott – Ray Bradbury
C. S. Forester – Cecil Smith
Zane Grey – Pearl Gray
O. Henry – William Sydney Porter
Stan Lee – Stanley Martin Lieber
Molière – Jean Baptiste Poquelin
Pablo Neruda – Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto
George Orwell – Eric Blair
J. K. Rowling – Joanne Rowling
Saki – Hector Hugh Munro
George Sand – Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin
Dr. Seuss – Theodor Seuss Geisel
Lemony Snicket – Daniel Handler
Stendhal – Marie-Henri Beyle
Mark Twain – Samuel Langhorne Clemens
Voltaire – François-Marie Arouet
For further reading: I Used to Know That Literature by C. Alan Joyce & Sarsh Janssen, Reader’s Digest (2012).
The Browser’s Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases by Mary Varchaver, Castle Books (2006).
Dictionary of Pseudonyms by Adrian Room, McFarland & Company (1998).