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A pen name, also known as a pseudonym, is a name an author uses in the place of their real name, when they write and publish things. For example, the Brontë sisters (Anne, Emily and Charlotte) who were famous authors in the 19th century used them, because they feared that people would make fun of (say bad things about) a book written by a woman. Charles Dodgson, an English math professor took the name Lewis Carroll, when he wrote fantasy stories. Erle Stanley Gardner, a best-selling American author, wrote books under numerous pseudonyms, including A. A. Fair, Kyle Corning, Charles M. Green, Carleton Kendrake, Charles J. Kenny, Les Tillray and Robert Parr, as well as under his real name.
Famous examples of pen names
- Cecil Adams (author of The Straight Dope column–real name unknown)
- Guillaume Apollinaire (Guillaume Albert Vladimir Apollinaire de Kostrowitzky), 20th century French poet, writer, and art critic
- Tudor Arghezi (Ion N. Theodorescu), 20th century Romanian poet and children's author
- Richard Bachman (Stephen King) 20th century horror author
- W. N. P. Barbellion (Bruce Frederick Cummings), 20th century diarist
- 'BB' (Denys Watkins-Pitchford), 20th century illustrator and children's book author
- Beachcomber (D.B. Wyndham-Lewis and John Bingham Morton), used for the surrealist humorous column "By the Way" in the Daily Express
- Acton Bell, Currer Bell, and Ellis Bell (Anne Brontë, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë)
- Nicolas Bourbaki (a group of mainly French 20th-century mathematicians)
- Kir Bulychev (Кир Булычёв) Igor Vsevolodovich Mozheyko (И́горь Все́володович Може́йко), 20th century Russian science fiction writer and historian
- Anthony Burgess (John ['Jack'] Burgess Wilson), 20th century British writer
- Cassandra (William Connor), 20th century left-wing journalist for The Daily Mirror
- Sue Denim (Dav Pilkey), writer and illustrator of the popular "Captain Underpants" children's book series (Sue Denim is a parody of the word pseudonym); also used by science fiction writer Lewis Shiner
- Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr), 20th century author of detective stories
- Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), 20th century Danish author of "Out of Africa"
- H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), 20th century American imagist poet, novelist and memoirist
- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), 19th century English novelist
- Paul Eluard (Eugène Grindel) 20th century French Dada and Surrealist poet
- C. S. Forester (Cecil Smith), 20th century writer of the Captain Horatio Hornblower novels, "The African Queen". and other novels
- Anatole France (Jacques Anatole François Thibault), 20th century French author
- Pat Frank (Harry Hart Frank), 20th century author of the apocalyptic novel Alas, Babylon
- Nicci French (Nicci Gerard and Sean French)
- Uriah Fuller (Martin Gardner) wrote Confessions of a Psychic.
- Anthony Gilbert (Lucy Beatrice Malleson), British author of the Arthur Crook crime fiction novels
- George Groth was the name under which Martin Gardner he wrote a negative review of his book, The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener.
- K. Hardesh (Clement Greenberg), 20th century American art critic
- O. Henry (William Sidney Porter), American author of short stories and novels
- Hergé (Georges Remi), 20th century Belgian comics writer and artist, famous worldwide for creating the Tintin series of books
- Iceberg Slim Robert Beck, an African American writer.
- Jinyong or Kam-yung (Louis Cha), 20th century Chinese-language novelist
- Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney, Jr.), the author of the bestselling The Wheel of Time fantasy series.
- Ann Landers (Esther Pauline Friedman), advice columnist
- Stan Lee (Stanley Martin Lieber), comic book pioneer
- Maddox (George Ouzounian), The Best Page in the Universe
- Mao Dun (Shen Dehong), 20th century Chinese novelist, cultural critic, and journalist
- Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker), Dutch writer famous for his satirical novel, Max Havelaar (1860)
- Murray Leinster (William Fitzgerald Jenkins), 20th century science fiction author
- Molière (Jean Baptiste Poquelin), 17th century French theatre writer, director and actor, and writer of comic satire.
- Natsume Sōseki (Natsume Kinnosuke), early 20th century Japanese novelist
- Gérard de Nerval (Gérard Labrunie), 19th century French poet, essayist and translator
- Pablo Neruda (Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto) 20th century Chilean poet. Nobel laureate.
- Abu Nuwas (Hasin ibn Hani al Hakami) 8th century Arabic language poet (Persia)
- George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), 20th century British author and essayist
- Ouida (Marie Louise de la Ramée), 19th century English novelist
- William Penn (Jeremiah Evarts), 19th century activist against Indian removal
- Q (Arthur Quiller-Couch), late 19th and early 20th century British author, poet, and literary critic
- Ellery Queen (Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee), 20th century detective fiction
- Pauline Réage (Anne Desclos), 20th century French author and critic who wrote Histoire d'O
- Henry Handel Richardson (Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson), early 20th century Australian author
- Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), early 20th century British satirist
- George Sand (Armandine Lucie Aurore Dupin), 19th century French novelist and early feminist
- Sayeh (ه. ا. سایه) Hushang Ebtehaj, 20th century Iranian poet (هوشنگ ابتهاج)
- Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel), also used "Theo. LeSieg", 20th century American writer and cartoonist best known for his of children's books
- Shahriar (شهریار) Seyyed Mohammad Hossein Behjat-Tabrizi (Persian: سید محمدحسین بهجت تبریزی), an Iranian poet, writing in Persian and Azerbaijani
- Cordwainer Smith (Paul M. A. Linebarger), 20th century science fiction author
- Lemony Snicket (author of A Series of Unfortunate Events–Daniel Handler)
- Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle),19th century French writer
- Max Stirner (Johann Kaspar Schmidt), 19th century German philosopher
- James Tiptree, Jr (Alice Sheldon), 20th century science fiction author
- Toegye (Yi Hwang), 16th century Korean Confucian scholar
- Tom Tomorrow (Dan Perkins) 20th century editorial cartoonist
- Lazlo Toth (Don Novello), using name taken from that of a deranged man who vandalized Michelangelo's Pieta in Rome, the pen name was used for the satiric "The Lazlo Letters" and other books
- Trevanian (Dr. Rodney Whitaker), 20th century American spy novelist
- Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorn Clemens, also used "Sieur Louis de Conte" for his fictional biography of Joan of Arc), 19th century American humorist, writer and lecturer
- Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby - Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips), advice columnist
- Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), 18th century French Enlightenment writer, deist and philosopher
- Wang Shiwei 王實味 (Wang Sidao 王思禱), 20th century Chinese journalist and literary writer
- Artemus Ward (Charles Farrar Browne), 19th century American humor writer
- Ibn Warraq is a pen name that has traditionally been adopted by dissident authors throughout the history of Islam, including a current writer from India.
- Wonkette (Ana Marie Cox), political gossip weblog writer
- Hajime Yatate (Various Sunrise animation staff members)
- Yulgok (Yi I), 16th century Korean Confucian scholar
- "The Psychic Mafia - Part 6 of 6". Members.fortunecity.com. http://members.fortunecity.com/misteryo/pm6.html#78. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- More by George Groth (1983-12-08). "Gardner’s Game with God | The New York Review of Books". Nybooks.com. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1983/dec/08/gardners-game-with-god/. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- "Wonkette". Wonkette. 2010-06-01. http://www.wonkette.com. Retrieved 2010-06-18.