Infographic: The Author Behind the Pseudonym

2468996828_d952637f13_bIt may surprise you, but many authors have chosen to publish under a pen name.

Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, JK Rowling publishes her mystery novels as Robert Galbraith, Isaac Asimov wrote several books as Paul French, and John le Carre was born David John Moore Cornwell.

For some, using a pen name is a way to escape the hype and expectations that come with using their own name, while for others writing under their own name wasn’t an option due to the perceived gender roles or professional etiquette. James Alfred Wright, for example, wrote about being a veterinarian under the pen name Jame Herriot, and Michael Crichton used several aliases to keep his medical profession apart from his early writing career.

The following infographic by Jonkers Rare Books lists a couple dozen authors and their pseudonyms.

Do you see one that should be included? Let me know in the comments.

The Author Behind the Pseudonym

image by JefferyTurner

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Mzcue3 May, 2016

    The infatuation with Ayn Rand by religious conservatives like Paul Ryan has always puzzled me. I wonder if the adulation would be quite so enthusiastic if she were known by her real name.

    1. Nate Hoffelder3 May, 2016

      I don’t think that would be an issue. Wasn’t she also vehemently anti-communist?

      1. BDR3 May, 2016

        She was also against social security… UNTIL she turned 62 and could profit from it. She was against Medicare, too, until her life-long smoking habit gave her lung cancer.

        There’s nothing quite as vile as a hypocrite of her depth. Yessir … she’s a GREAT Republican role-model.

        1. Nate Hoffelder3 May, 2016


          And let’s not forget she also took money from Roosevelt’s New Deal so that her plays could be licensed.

          1. Fjtorres3 May, 2016

            On the other hand, she correctly described the world we are living in 50 years ago.

  2. Katy L3 May, 2016

    How about Alice Mary Norton, who published as Andre Norton because women couldn’t get published in science fiction and fantasy in the mid-twentieth century (or because it was thought boys wouldn’t read books written by women in those genres, depending on which story you believe)? Or Catherine Lucille Moore, who published as C.L. Moore for the same reason?

  3. fahirsch3 May, 2016 has a list of pen names.
    And an enormous list can be found here:

    1. Nate Hoffelder3 May, 2016

      Thanks for the list.

      Was Anne Rice really born Howard Allen Frances O’Brien?

    1. Nate Hoffelder3 May, 2016

      That’s where I got it from, yes.

      Other sources confirm.

  4. […] * The real person behind the pen name. […]

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