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A to Z Writing: Noms de Plume Need No Introduction

Writers have adopted noms de plume, or pen names, throughout literary history.

A novelist, poet, or journalist may employ a pseudonym for privacy purposes. Others might use noms de plume to conceal a nationality, mask gender or hide shared authorship.

Still more may write under pen names to separate genres under which they write. For example, a financial writer might use a nom de plume to pen romance novels. A best-selling horror writer could adopt a pseudonym to write children’s books.

Consider these 15 examples of famous authors’ noms de plume:

  • Anatole France – Jacques Anatole Fran├žois Thibault
  • Ann Landers – Esther Pauline Friedman
  • Ayn Rand – Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum
  • Dr. Seuss – Theodor Seuss Geisel
  • Ellery Queen – Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee
  • George Eliot – Mary Ann Evans
  • George Orwell – Eric Arthur Blair
  • James Herriot – James Alfred Wight
  • Joseph Conrad - Jozef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
  • Lemony Snicket – Daniel Handler
  • Lewis Carroll – Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
  • Mark Twain – Samuel Langhorne Clemens
  • O. Henry – William Sydney Porter
  • Saki – Hector Hugh Munro
  • Sapphire – Ramona Lofton

Personally, I use a pen name.

It started when I branched out from a professional corporate communications career into creative writing. Of course, my nom de plume made even more sense when I began blogging and writing for multiple online news sites.

Have you seen some of the comments readers stick on political and sports articles?

 I prefer the privacy of a pen name. My real name reaps very little on a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search. But my pseudonym turns up enough.

And nope, I’m not telling.

Sometimes, using a pseudonym allows a writer to be extra candid and truthful.

More than a few writing colleagues have confessed that they find more freedom in sharing personal anecdotes under the protection of their pen names. Like the famous opening line from the 1950s-1960s Dragnet television series, “The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”

That is, if you can call the writers innocent. But that’s another blog post altogether.

Writing Hands by Sandro Botticelli
Circa 1485
Public Domain/Wikipedia Commons
2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge logo
Fair Use

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  1. I use a pen name also, having moved into a genre of fiction that I wanted to separate from others. My pen name isn't too far away from my real life name, and I use it interchangeably. Interesting set of blogs you are doing for A-Z. New follower!

  2. I use one because I have books with different publishers.


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