The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Pen name

A pen name or nom de plume is a pseudonym adopted by an author. Nom de plume is a French-language expression. Allonym is another synonym for pseudonym.

Some authors take on pen names to conceal their identity: for example the Brontë sisters, who felt they would either not be published at all, or not taken seriously as women authors. Others do so to segregate different types of work: Lewis Carroll took a pen name because as Charles Lutwidge Dodgson he wrote mathematics papers; Agatha Christie wrote romantic novels as Mary Westmacott. Many writers, particularly in genre fiction, are so prolific that they are forced to take pen names in order to sell their books to different publishers: this is the case, for instance, with John Dickson Carr, who, in the 1930s, was publishing two detective stories a year under his own name and another two, through another publisher, under the pen name Carter Dickson. Pseudonyms are not always secret: Stendhal's real name was known: at least one critic disparaged his pen name as an affectation.


Urdu Poetry

A shayar (a poet who writes shers in Urdu or Persian) almost always has a takhallus, a pen name, traditionally placed at the end of the name when referring to the poet by his full name. Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan (his official name and title) was known as Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, or just Mirza Ghalib.


Japanese poets who write haiku often use a haiga or penname. The famous haiku poet Matsuo Basho had used fifteen different haiga before he became fond of a banana plant (bashō) that had been given to him by a disciple and started using it has his penname at the age of 38.

Similar to a pen name, Japanese artists usually have a or art-name, which might change a number of times during their career. Also, all Sumo wrestlers take shikona (wrestling names), and people in other professions and trades may also adopt new names (see Japanese name#Professional names).

Famous pen names

Note: List of Urdu language poets provides pen names for a range of Urdu poets.

"House" names

Book and magazine publishers have sometimes used a penname or pseudonym as the author of a series of stories that would be shared by any number of authors. Often these works are done as a "work for hire" with the writers receiving a flat fee and no royalties. Some of these names include:

See also

Last updated: 10-21-2005 20:06:38
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