Interview with the Vampire

11 Authors You Probably Didn’t Know Used Pen Names

People have loads of reasons for taking on a pseudonym. Sometimes they’re a woman trying to get ahead in a patriarchy, sometimes they’re an immigrant trying to seem less Other, and sometimes their name just isn’t catchy enough.


These are eleven of the most surprising authors who used pen names. You think you know somebody…


1. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (Real name: Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum)


2. George Orwell, Nineteen-Eighty Four (Real name: Eric Arthur Blair)


3. E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey (Real name: Erika Mitchell)


4. Voltaire, Candide (Real name: François-Marie Arouet)


5. Alice Campion, The Painted Sky (Multiple people! Their real names are: Denise Tart, Jane St Vincent Welch, Jane Richards and Jenny Crocker)


6. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Real name: Daniel Foe)


7. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Real name:  Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski)


8. Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire (Real name: Howard Allen Frances O’Brien)


9. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Real name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)


10. George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (Real name: Mary Anne Evans)


11. John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Real name: David John Moore Cornwell)


While you can understand some of the name changes, others are utterly mystifying. Anne Rice’s given name is very masculine sounding, and Voltaire’s pen name makes him sound like a cosmic superhero, so those two make sense. But Daniel Defore? Does the “De” really add that much? I guess he was a big fan of alliteration. Anyway, what would your pen name be?




Feature Image Via IMDb