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A Pen Name (also known as a pseudonym) is a made-up name a writer or artist (in the case of performers, this is called a Stage Name) produces works under for whatever reason. (Rule of Cool, mostly, or in the case of famous actors / people, it's also a way to find out whether or not they'd be succesful even without their star power attached to it.)

Supertrope of Moustache De Plume and Same Face, Different Name, so please don't repeat those examples here.

Examples of Pen Name include:

  • Apollo C. Vermouth (Paul McCartney)
  • Andrew Clements (Hanne Turk)
  • Anne Onymous (not yet revealed)
  • B. Traven (not yet revealed, assumed to have been Ret Marut or Otto Feige)
  • Bill Bailey (Mark Bailey; he named himself after the wartime song "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey")
  • Boz (Charles Dickens, in his first works)
  • C. Spike Trotman (not yet revealed)
  • Captain Ger Bear (Geremy Walker)
  • Cecil Adams may or may not be the pen name of Ed Zotti.
  • Charles Ogden (various authors)
  • Claymore J. Flapdoodle (Phil Foglio on cards with his art in the Magic: The Gathering joke set Unglued)
  • Cordwainer Smith (Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger)
  • Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison; a Shout-Out to the above, reserved for "Alan Smithee" situations where he feels that Executive Meddling messed his contribution beyond repair)
  • Darren Shan (Darren O'Shaunnessy)
  • Ding Ling (Jiang Bingzhi)
  • David Bowie (David Jones)
  • e. o. plauen (Erich Ohser when he produced Vater und Sohn)
  • Emily Rodda (Jennifer Rowe)
  • G.A. McKevett (Sonja Massie)
  • George Orwell (Eric Blair)
  • Gerald Wiley (Ronnie Barker)
  • Hergé (Georges Remi)
  • Isaac Asimov is actually an inversion. Many assumed it was an exotic pen name for a sci-fi author, but it was his actual name.
  • Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg)
  • Jack Yeovil (Kim Newman)
  • Jean Paul (Jean Paul Friedrich Richter)
  • J. E. Mand ("S. O. Meone") (Duke Charles of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as playwright)
  • Jin Yong (Louis Cha)
  • Joachim Ringelnatz (Hans Bötticher)
  • John Twelve Hawks (as of yet unknown)
  • Joseph Conrad (Józef Teodor Nalecz Konrad Korzeniowski)
  • Kenny Everett (Maurice Cole)
  • Kim Harrison (Dawn Cook)
  • Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
  • Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
  • Linkara - Lewis Lovhaug. Subversion: Lewis used it as a pen name for his childhood novels. It soon was used as a log in name for his written reviews and finally became, well, Linkara.)
  • Loriot (Vicco von Bülow)
  • Marc Bolan (Marc Feld)
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) (also a stage name)
  • Morris (Maurice De Bevere)
  • N.W. Clerk (C.S. Lewis)
  • Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Jane Cochran)
  • Novalis (Friedrich von Hardenberg)
  • O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
  • Paul French (Isaac Asimov)
  • Philalethes (King John of Saxony)
  • Professor Hoffmann (Angelo John Lewis)
  • Pseudonymous Bosch (Raphael Simon)
  • Quino (Joaquín Salvador Lavado)
  • Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
  • Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey)
  • Rius (Eduardo del Río)
  • Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney Jr.)
  • Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)
  • Silence Dogood (Benjamin Franklin)
  • Stendhal (Henri Beyle)
  • S. W. Erndase — a person wrote The Expert at the Card Table under this name in the early 1900s. The author's true identity remains a mystery to this day.
  • Vic Reeves (Jim Moir)
  • Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet)
  • Possibly William Shakespeare, according to several (unproven) theories.
  • Wolfman Jack (Bob Smith)

Sometimes one person uses multiple pen names:

  • Ampe R. Sand / Dave Ahl Jr. / Zarf (Andrew Plotkin)
  • Anne Rice, Anne Rampling, A.N. Roquelaure (Howard Allen O'Brien) [1]
  • Dr. Seuss, Theo. Le Sieg (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
  • Ignaz Wrobel, Kaspar Hauser, Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger (Kurt Tucholsky)
    • The German writer used four pseudonyms while working on Die Weltbühne so his name would not appear so often on the index, assigning different styles to his four alter egos. Theobald Tiger wrote only in verse, Peter Panter general satires, Ignaz Wrobel acerbic, hard-hitting stuff, and Kaspar Hauser on the lines of "this world is crazy".
  • John Wyndham, John Beynon and Lucas Parkes (John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris)
  • Moebius, Gir (Jean Giraud)
  • Robin Hobb, Megan Lindholm (Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden)

Sometimes two or more people use one pen name:

  • Ellery Queen (Daniel Nathan and Manford Lepofsky)
  • Erin Hunter (Victoria Holmes, Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui Sutherland, and Gillian Philip)
  • Grant Naylor (Rob Grant and Doug Naylor)
  • Fujiko Fujio (Hiroshi Fujimoto, who has since passed away, and Motoo Abiko)
  • Franklin W. Dixon, writer of The Hardy Boys
  • Carolyn Keene, writer of Nancy Drew
  • Publius, author of the Federalist Papers, was the pen name for not two, but three Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.
  • Michael Slade, pen name of two Canadian lawyers whose thrillers pit the Mounties against serial killers
  • LA Graf, a pen name used by Julia Ecklar and Karen Rose Cercone for their collaborative works in the Star Trek Novel Verse.

Fictional examples:

  • Tim McGee in NCIS writes thrillers under the pen name "Thom E. Gemcity," which is of course an anagram of his real name.
  • Strong Bad from Homestar Runner once claimed that he writes an advice column for a girls' magazine under the "pseudoname" Cara Carabowditbowdit.
  • Monster: Franz Bonaparta, Klaus Poppe, Emil Sebe, and Jakub Farobek. All one person.
  • The X-Files--Fox Mulder wrote an Omni article under the name "M.F. Luder."
  • Mahou Sensei Negima: Haruna Saotome (no relation to that other Saotome) uses the moniker "Paru".
  • Kenji Harima from School Rumble draws manga under the pen name Harima Hario.
  1. No transgendering involved - she was just named after her father (her mother thought it was a nice idea). Nobody has called her "Howard" since her first day at school, when she decided to call herself "Anne". BTW, she could claim the surname "Rice" from her late husband Stanley Rice.