Prose by any other name...

Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, don't judge an author by their name

Just as you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, don't judge an author by their name

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Since the revelation that Robert Galbraith is really J.K. Rowling, now is an ideal time to look at some other writers that have used pseudonyms

Two of Scotland’s most famous crime authors have written under a pen name – Ian Rankin has three books as Jack Harvey while Quintin Jardine wrote the first two books featuring Oz Blackstone under the name Matthew Reid. Both had established themselves with the characters they are best known for, namely DIs Rebus and Skinner when they brought out their first pen named books.

Another established author who wrote under a pseudonym is Stephen King who has written seven novels under the name Richard Bachman.

These authors are more famous in their own right but there is at least one modern author for whom the opposite is true. Madeleine Wickham had written seven novels under her own name but she may be more familiar to you as Sophie Kinsella, author of the ‘Shopaholic’ series of books.

Occasionally, a pseudonym is used as the author is writing it through the guise of a character from the book itself such as Pittacus Lore (James Frey & Jobie Hughes) and Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler). On other occasions the pseudonym is used to disguise the sex of the author. A famous example was George Eliot, real name Mary Ann Evans. who used this to have her work taken more seriously, while the Bronte sisters released a volume of poetry under the names Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Iain Blair did the opposite and wrote romance novels as Emma Blair.

Eric Blair, not wanting to embarrass his family from a forthcoming book about his experiences tramping in London and Paris, wrote under the pseudonym George Orwell. If you wish to establish yourself as an author but are a child of a famous author, you may do what Stephen King’s son Joseph Hillstrom King has done and shorten your name to Joe Hill or if you are a mother and daughter writing team, you could just use your first names as P.J. (Lambrecht) Tracy (Lambrecht) have done.

Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, don’t judge an author by their name and if you pick up a book by a first time author, you never know who you may have in your hand.