What’s in a Name?

Just a little bit of fun to liven up this Wednesday morning. I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the concept of pen names or pseudonyms. Writers have been using pen names for centuries for any number of reasons; to avoid prejudice due to feminine* or ethnic names, for popular authors to avoid over-exposure, for group writing efforts, because of a hard to pronounce name or simply because their name is too similar to an already-popular writer.

*Women writers benefit especially from pen names, even now, as recent studies show that many major book review outlets are still reviewing books written by men up to four times more than ones written by women. A sad state of affairs and the subject of an upcoming post.

But how do people choose their pen names? It turns out these names are chosen any number of ways:

  • Use of initials to represent names (J.K. Rowling, whose publishers feared young boys wouldn’t read action books written by a woman)
  • Homage to a role model (Pablo Neruda chose this name as a nod to Czech poet Jan Neruda. He had a pen name so his dad wouldn’t find out he was “wasting his life” writing poems)
  • Strictly business. Apparently you should avoid your pen name surname starting with a W, Y or A due to book store shelf placement and buying patterns.
  • A combination of names that are meaningful to the author. George Orwell chose his name for the Patron saint of England (George) and the river Orwell in the English countryside.

But in this age of “Theres an app for that”…Theres an app for that! Check out the Huffington Posts’ Pen Name Generator! They have a typewriter inset in the article, where you type in your first and last name and your pen name is created for you!

Kingsley Ashdown…that has a nice ring to it!

You can use it to write your mystery novels or as your getaway name should the need to flee the country arise! Have fun!




2 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. Pingback: Calling all Feminists: Whey “The Year of Reading Women” is more important than you think. | hey bookworm!

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