Pen names and pseudonyms are not new in the writing world. Authors have always gone by names other than their own for a myriad of reasons. Some were women who felt they would be better received if they pretended to be men. Others probably thought an alternate name sounded much cooler. No matter the reason, this article will highlight some of the most famous authors who never existed; you’ll be surprised who made the list.
1. Flora Fairfield aka Louisa May Alcott
The iconic “Little Women” franchise, written by Louisa May Scott, has been in the hearts of many for decades. The book has been adapted into five major films beginning in 1918, and the most recent in 2019. But did you know that before Little Women, Lousia May Scott went by the pen name Flora Fairweather, under which she wrote published poems, short stories and even thrillers? She even had other pen names which she used to write stories aimed towards her adult demographic.
2. Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling
Everyone knows who J.K Rowling is – if it weren’t for her genius, the Harry Potter franchise would not exist and the world would be. lot less magical. However, not many people know that she goes by another persona, Robert Galbraith. Under this name, Rowling has written a total of five detective books titled Cormoran Strike. Her reason for this is that she enjoys writing under a male persona as she felt inspired by other female writers who did the same. Also, she didn’t want her success from her previous novels to influence the feedback of the Cormoran Strike series.
3. George Eliot aka Mary Ann Evans
One of the most successful Victorian writers was George Eliot, whose real name was actually Mary Ann Evans. She is best known for her development of the groundbreaking technique of psychological analysis that is often used in modern fiction. Her choice of a male pen name was very obvious – women back then weren’t taken as seriously as the male counterparts and she didn’t want her work to be influenced by her gender. The name George, was in honor of the married man whom she had a whirlwind affair with and Eliot, because it’s simple and easy to pronounce.
4. Mrs. Silence Dogood aka Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin is one of the founding fathers and is best known for experimenting with lightning and a key attached to a kite in the middle of a storm. However, a lesser-known aspect of his life is that he wrote under a female pseudonym, Mrs. Silence Dogood. Only sixteen years old at the time, Franklin wanted to make his debut as a journalist for his brother’s paper. So he wrote fourteen essays using this female name, and all fourteen were well-received. He was very ahead of his time!
5. James Tiptree, Jr. aka Alice Bradley Sheldon
Finally, we have the father – or mother – of modern science fiction, James Tiptree, Jr. ,whose real name was Alice Bradley Sheldon. This is common knowledge today, but back then, there were many jaws hanging on the floor when the discovery was made. One critic even claimed that Tiptree couldn’t have possibly been a woman due to her particularly masculine style of writing. Under the pen name, Tiptree gained a reputation as a superb male writer who understood the plights of women. The name Tiptree came from a brand of orange marmalade, while the Jr. part was her husband’s idea.
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