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July 24, 2013 / ljbradburn-Smith

Don’t you dare call me that!

One or two of you may have noticed that a certain JK Rowling has recently been outed as the real author of  The Cuckoo’s Calling, published under the name Robert Galbraith. I find the idea of  writing under another name quite interesting and I can see how it may be appealing, to an author, to have their book critiqued as a stand alone work rather than as something that already has expectations placed on it, whether that is due to gender or previous works. In the case of JK Rowling, everything she does will be judged on Harry Potter and, whilst I don’t think this is a bad thing because Harry Potter is beyond awesome, I also think that it could easily result in people being more critical when she dares to create a new character that isn’t a magician. Interestingly, JK Rowling was already a pen name of sorts, adopted for the Harry Potter series, on the advice of her publishers. It is an engineered version of her real name (Joanne Rowling) using only her first initial and adding the initial K, to make it sound more male, so as not to put off young boys who may not want to read a novel by a female writer (probably in case it was about something disgusting like love).

So in honour of JK and her short-lived secret here are some other big fat liars authors who have written under pseudonyms:

1. Mary Ann Evans – Wrote under the pen name George Eliot during the Victorian Era. Historically, women authors were not taken as seriously as men were and during Mary Ann’s career they were known only to write fluffy romances, which were easily dismissed. Mary Ann wanted to escape this stereotype, so in order to be taken more seriously, she published novels under the name George. Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte were among other authors who originally wrote under pen names to hide their gender.

2. Stephen King – Wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. Allegedly King wanted to publish novels more frequently than he could under his name alone so he decided to bring Richard to the party. The Running Man is one of these novels and is currently residing on the “to read” shelf of my bookcase. I find it interesting that the first novel I will read by Stephen King is actually written under another name.

3.  Eric Arthur Blair – More famously known by his nom de plume George Orwell. Apparently Eric didn’t want to embarrass his family by recounting part of his life spent in poverty so adopted this name to save them from their inevitable red faces.

4. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – Lewis Carroll to me and you. Charles’s pen name is like a little puzzle. Charles translated his name ‘Charles Lutwidge’ into Latin, then reversed the order of his new fancy names and translated them back into English. This is probably my favourite and most inventive but then what else can we expect from the author of Alice in Wonderland?

I think my pen name would have to be I.M Fantastic, no-one would ever guess it wasn’t real! 😉

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6 Comments

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  1. Sherri / Jul 25 2013 3:37 pm

    I love your posts, Lydia, they always make me smile and I learn some very interesting facts at the same time! I read that J K Rowling was furious when she was ‘outed’ as the author of The Cuckoo’s calling…but who knows, that could all just be yet more publicity! As for I M Fantastic, why not? I think you are 🙂

    • ljbradburn / Jul 29 2013 8:33 pm

      Arrr, Thank you very much, you’re not bad youself 🙂 Your comment made me smile a lot! I’m really glad that you enjoy my posts because I love writing them. I wondered whether it was a setup too, I guess we’ll never know for sure x

      • Sherri / Jul 30 2013 3:47 pm

        🙂

  2. calmgrove / Jul 30 2013 9:24 pm

    Noms-de-plume have a long tradition, don’t they? Three that occurred to me (though I had to check their spelling were Mark Twain — obviously — Hergé the author of Tintin (Georges Remi, forgotten his last name) and Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), famous from the film Out of Africa. But I like your list better!

    • ljbradburn / Aug 2 2013 8:44 am

      Thank you 🙂 I was researching whilst writing this post and there are so many more than I realised! I love the idea of them though, creates a bit of mystery around the author 🙂 x

      • calmgrove / Aug 2 2013 7:39 pm

        Not dissimilar to the reasons bloggers and tweeters choose sometimes obscure names for themselves!

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