Category: noms de plume

Writers’ Pen Names: A concise history

pseudonyms

By Rachel Lyon

I have long been interested in the origin and function of pen names.  A pseudonym can be a mask to hide behind, or a tool by which to play a sort of game. It can be a political statement, an aesthetic declaration, or an alternate identity that is grown into over time. Pseudonyms can give writers the freedom to argue a position they don’t quite believe, or the courage to say the otherwise unspeakable. And they can carry hidden homages to other names of other notable men and women. 

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If you wrote a novel and decided to publish it under another name, what would your ideal pseudonym be?

Would you make a gender switch à la the Brontë sisters, when Anne, Charlotte and Emily used Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell?

Would you choose a more dramatic name such as Ayn Rand (born Alisa Rosenbaum) did?

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